Unreliable sources don’t always contain true, accurate, and up-to-date information.

Using these sources in academic writing can result in discrediting writers’ status.

That’s why it is extremely important to use credible and reliable sources only.

This guide will help you in evaluating whether a source is relevant or not.

 

 

What sources can be considered as credible?

  • materials published within last 10 years;
  • research articles written by respected and well-known authors;
  • websites registered by government and educational institutions (.gov, .edu, .ac);
  • academic databases (i.e. Academic Search Premier or JSTOR);
  • materials from Google Scholar.

What sources should be avoided?

  • out-of-date materials (published over 10 years ago);
  • posts from social networks (i.e. facebook);
  • blogs;
  • research articles without citations;
  • websites ending in .com, .org, .net etc.

NB! Wikipedia can never be considered as a reliable source of information since it can be edited by anyone. However, it can be used when you are first trying to understand the topic. Moreover, there are lots of further links and references that can be useful when doing a research or writing academic papers.

How do I know if a source is reliable or not?

Always ask yourself the following questions in order to determine if a source is trustworthy or not.

1. Who is the author?

Reliable sources are always written by well-known and respected authors. These sources are always properly and accurately referenced. Therefore, when checking the source’s credibility you can find more information for your own research.

2. When was the material published?

Generally, books published in 1990s contain outdated information. Hence, you are expected to use materials published not later than 10 years ago.

3. What is the purpose of a source?

Always try to evaluate if the source presents clear and unbiased information or if its aim is to alter and persuade one’s views. A source written from a specific point of view may still be credible, but it can limit the coverage of a topic to a particular side of a debate.

4. How is this source proved?

Try to avoid sources that don’t have references or evidence to prove its point of view. Always make sure, if the source provides support to the given claims.

5. What type of audience is this source aimed at?

Always take into account what type of sources your audience will value. For example, if you are writing for an academic audience, they will definitely prefer peer-reviewed journals and scholarly papers.