Is My Source Credible?

One of the most important aspects of developing a research paper is finding credible sources. Sources provide the evidence that you will use to build—and defend—your thesis. With so much information available online, it’s more important than ever to determine that you’re using only credible sources. But how can you tell if a source is credible? In this blog post, we’ll walk through three questions you can ask yourself when assessing the credibility of a source.  

Did I find my source in a credible location?  

One of the best indicators of a credible source is the location where you found it. The most credible locations are libraries and archives; these should be your first stops when looking for sources. Not only will they have an abundance of sources, but there will also be trained staff on hand to help you assess their credibility. 

Things get more complicated when you move online. Here are some tips for assessing the various types of online sources: 

Does the author of the source seem reliable?

Speaking of the author…another great way to assess the credibility of a source is to check the credibility of its author. What are the author’s qualifications? Where are they employed? Do they have a specialized degree or other experience that gives them authority to write on their topic? 

Has anyone else cited my source? 

A final question to ask yourself is whether anyone else has cited your source. Read a few articles on your topic. If your source is credible, it’s likely that someone with credibility (such as a professor, journalist, or archivist) has referenced it. Another great way to find credible sources is to check the footnotes of scholarly articles for secondary and primary sources relevant to your topic. Because a scholar has already cited these sources, they are likely credible. 

In sum…

With so much fake news circulating online today, it’s more important than ever to assess the credibility of your own sources. Ask yourself these three questions to figure out if your sources are credible. But if you’re still not sure, reach out to your teacher or librarian for help. It never hurts to get a second opinion when it comes to the credibility of your sources.