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International Social Work year 2 - information skills: 4. Assessing


A source is credible if it is reliable. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether or not sources are reliable. Here are a few points to consider when evaluating sources on reliability:

  • Be skeptical!
  • Research the references and connections of the source and author
  • Evaluate which sources are cited by the author
  • Verify that the source is up to date
  • Check the approvals and reviews that the source has received
  • Check if the source's publisher is reputable
  • Beware of bias

Assessment criteria

Checklist for assessing sources


  • Is the author a current expert? What is his/her position?
  • Can the author be contacted? And how (email, phone, address, ...)?
  • Has the author written anything else on this topic?
  • Is the author often cited by others?


  • 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 sources that report the same facts?
  • Is the source usable? Does the information fulfil 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  • Is the information still current, or has it become outdated?
  • Has a new understanding of the topic developed in the meantime?


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

(Boekhorst, Kwast & Wevers, 2004, pp. 241-247).


Credible sources and how to spot them

Checklist (click on the image)