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International Social Work year 1 - searching and finding reliable literature: 4. Reliability

Fake news

With a critical view

It is extremely important to be able to recognize reliable information. After all, substantiating your report with incorrect information undermines all your work. So what do you have to look out for? Here are 2 checklists of the most important elements / assessment criteria for reliability. And also an example of a scientific article.

General assessment criteria

Checklist for assessing sources (Boekhorst, Kwast & Wevers, 2004, pp. 241-247).


  • Is the author a current expert? What is his/her job position?
  • Can the author be contacted? And how (email, phone, address, ...)?
  • Has the author written anything else on this topic?
  • Is the publisher, organization or site owner well-known? Can they be contacted and how?


  • What is the purpose of the information source (advertising, propaganda,...)?
  • Does the source contain facts or opinions?
  • Are the opinions substantiated?
  • Is the information consistent with information in other sources? Are there other sources that report the same facts?
  • Is the source applicable? Does the information fulfill the information need?


  • Is there an overview of the sources used?
  • Are all angles covered?
  • Does the source contain the full text? Or is it a summary or a reference?


  • How recent is the information?
  • Is the information still current, or has it become outdated?
  • Have new insights been gained on the topic since the source was published?


  • Does the information contain references and/or a literature list?
  • Have you read the sources in the literature list to check the information is correct and whether you agree with the interpretation?

E-learning clip Reliable Sources

How to recognize a scientific article