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Research Skills: Start

Author and Date are key to identifying reliable, credible and objective sources

Commonly assignment tasks include a criteria on using credible sources, for example "Extensive evaluation of resources chosen to ensure they are reliable". 
Authorship and date are important criteria in determining whether information is reliable or trustworthy or credible or objective: 


  • Who is the author? What authority do they have? are they an expert? are they qualified to speak on the subject? Open another tab and search for information on the author.
  • Assess the source: is the website creator stated, who are they? Who is the publisher? Look for information about an organisation or publisher. Is the source a peer-reviewed or refereed journals which indicates that articles are scholarly. Is the source a blog? this generally present a personal viewpoint. the reliability of the evidence.

Currency or date: 

  • The date the information is published is important for medical information as medicine is constantly informed by new research. A twenty year old article on concussion is 'out of date' and not reliable. Only use information which is dated. When was the web page last updated?

Accuracy of information:

  • Is there author bias, suggesting less credibility? What is the writer's angle? Truth telling or Advertising?
  • Are facts or statistics from a reliable source, e.g. Australian Bureau of Statistics?
  • Use of emotive language indicates the information is opinion rather than fact
  • URL domain, e.g. .gov .edu .com, indicates a government site, an educational body or a commercial organisation


Considering these criteria, allows you to critically choose information to use OR not use.

HOW'D YOU GO? Perhaps, you might consider the career of a FACT-CHECKER ? 

If you can't find the author or the date, should you use it?

Evaluating Information Sources

It’s important to choose sources which are accurate, authoritative, recent and show no bias. All Information on the Internet needs to be evaluated as websites can post information without checking it’s true.
Also, it is vital to select ones that you can understand.

Use this checklist to assess whether your webpage can be used.
Webpage Title:…………………………………………………………….


Authoritative? Who is the Author?



Is there an author? Or publisher or organisation identified?


Is the author an expert? Look for About.


Is the authors education shown?


Can you contact the author?


Content. Can I trust the information is accurate?

Is the purpose of the site clearly stated?


Is the site an .edu, .gov, .org domain?


Is the site persuading you to think or believe in a certain way?


Does the site have advertising that may influence content?


Is the site based on fact? Are the sources for text /graphics cited?


Is the information consistent with other sources of information?


Do all the links work?


Date? Is the date of the page was created shown? Last Update?


Readership. Is this article right for me?

Is the text easy to read?


Can you understand it?


Easy it easy to move around the site?


If your total equals:

13-15          This is good site, it’s ok to use 
10-12          This site maybe ok, consider using other sources
0-9              Not a good site, find another source 

How can I tell if a source is credible?

How to evaluate sources

Read laterally to determine the reliabiltiy of information