Questions to ask:

  • Are statements backed up by evidence?
  • Are sources clearly cited in such a way the reader can locate them?
  • Can you verify claims presented as evidence elsewhere?
  • Is the content grammatically correct?
  • Are there spelling or typographical errors?

What to look for when determining accuracy:

  • For web pages, look for links to outside sources, and pay particular attention to whether the link leads you to an error page or is otherwise nonfunctioning -- this indicates the author/creator is not being careful when linking, is negligent in updating links, or, even worse, is attempting to "fake" links to outside sources.
  • If the author/creator links to outside sources, visit those sources:
    • Is the author/creator of the original source misrepresenting the linked material (which would make the original less accurate)?
    • Does the linked source material stand up to a critical evaluation?
  • The top-level domain of the URL indicates the type of organization responsible for the website, which can give you clues about accuracy. For example, in the URL, the top-level domain is .edu. In general, .gov and .edu pages are more accurate than .com and .net pages.
  • For books, journals, or magazines, look for footnotes, endnotes, or links/references/mention to/or outside sources.
    • Scholarly articles and books are extensively documented with quality sources.
    • Popular information sources (and much information found on the open web) rarely cite sources in full; however, more reliable popular sources should provide enough information (like the original source title and/or author) to track down sources.

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