Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENGL 100 /105 Terzakis/Maher: Evaluating Information

Google Tools

Scholarly vs. popular sources

Scholarly vs. popular sources

Instructors asking you to use credible sources may also use to evaluate your citations to see whether you use scholarly, academic or peer-reviewed, or popular. See the box below to determine whether a source is "scholarly" or "popular."


Have you P.R.O.V.E.N. that your source is a good one?

How do you judge whether a website is credible? Some of hallmarks of a credible website are:

  • Purpose: How and why was the source created?
    • Why does this information exist? To educate, inform, persuade, sell or entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it?
    • Who is the intended audience? The general public, students, experts?
  • Relevance: The value of the source to your needs.
    • Is the type of source appropriate for how you plan to use it and for your assignment's requirements?
    • How useful it the information in this source, compared to other sources?
    • How detailed is the information? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information
    • Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally?
    • Do they use strong, emotional, manipulative or offensive language?
  • Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information
    • Do the authors support their information with factual evidence?
  • Expertise: The authority of the authors and the source
    • ​What makes the authors, publishers or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic?
  • Newness: The age of the information
    • Is your topic in an area that requires current information, such as science, technology or current events? Or could information found in older sources still be useful and valid?

URLs tell you a lot about a website's author and owner

Domain names contain clues to author and audience

 The domain name - the last three letters of the website's url - will tell you what type of organization runs and maintains the website. To determine who the author of the website is, look at the bottom of the page for an institution, organization or individual's name.

Domain name Abbreviation for Institution indicated
.com commercial Commercial enterprise or business
.edu education college or university
.gov government government agency or entity
.org organization nonprofit or other type of organization
.mil U.S. military a branch of the U.S. military