A video from Stanford University Libraries about evaluating sources.
Currency: Currency, or date, is important to note because information can quickly become obsolete. Supporting your research with facts that have been superseded by new research or recent events weakens your argument. Not all assignments require the most current information; older materials can provide valuable information such as a historical overview of your topic. In some disciplines, the date of the source is less important, while in others it is very important.
Questions to ask to determine currency:
Relevance: Relevance is important because you are expected to support your ideas with pertinent information. A source detailing Einstein's marriage would not be very relevant to a paper about his scientific theories.
Questions to ask to determine relevance:
Authority: Authority is important in judging the credibility of the author's assertions. In a trial regarding DNA evidence, a jury would find a genetics specialist's testimony far more authoritative compared to a testimony from a random person off the street.
Questions to ask to determine authority:
Accuracy: Accuracy is important because errors and untruths distort a line of reasoning. When you present inaccurate information, you undermine your own credibility.
Questions to ask to determine accuracy:
Purpose: Books, articles, and web pages are made to serve a purpose. They can educate, entertain, or sell a product or point of view. Some sources may be frivolous or commercial in nature, providing inaccurate, false, or biased information. Other sources are more ambiguous about any potential partiality. Varied points of view can be valid as long as they are based on good reasoning and careful use of evidence.
Questions to ask to determine purpose: