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Human Geography, Human Ecology, Development Studies, and Sustainability Studies: Critical Evaluation of Sources


No matter where you may have retrieved information, it is important to have a critical approach to your sources.

To evaluate the reliability, your own experience and knowledge as well as the source's reputation plays an important role. Does the source have fact checkers or editors?

By whom?

Author: Is the author well known in their field of research? Does the author have academic legitimacy? Have they been published before? Is there any way to contact the author?

Publisher:  Who is responsible for the information - a company, an agency, an organization or an individual? Is there any contact information? Serious publishers often clearly express who they are and what they do. How reputable is the publisher?

For whom?

Target audience: Who is the intended audience (scholars, school children, general public, etc.)?

Relevance: How relevant and/or useful is the material for your needs? Which topics are covered, and to what depth?


Purpose: What is the purpose of the material – to inform, present research, disseminate views, entertain, to sway the opinion of the audience? Is the information presented with a minimum of bias?


Up-to-date: When was the text written? Is the material enough for you topically? Is the publication or web page dated? Updated? If the date is included it may have various meanings: date first created, date placed on the web or date last revised.


Scholarly: Is it a scholarly text or popular science? Does it include an abstract, theory, method and analysis sections?

References: Which other sources has been cited in the work/material?

Who owns the web domain?

To know how owns a web domain might be of great use when you evaluate it's reliability. Below you will find a few different pages where you can find out just that.

Critical evaluation of sources

Evaluating Sources - try the CRAAP-test!

This tutorial was created by Western Libraries