Skip to Main Content

Library Services for Students

This LibGuide provides information about library services for students.

Evaluate Sources

Finding information online is relatively easy! There's just so much out there that it can be overwhelming. Being able to determine what sources are available for your paper or project is important.

Use the guideline below to help you determine the appropriateness of your sources:

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been updated or revised?
  • How current does your information need to be?
  • Do the links work?

Relevance: The importance of the information.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does the information relate to your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information appropriate for your level (not too elementary or too advanced)
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources to determine the best ones?
  • Would you be comfortable using the source in your paper?

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Where did the information originate?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed by professionals?
  • Can you verify the information in another source?
  • Is the language free of emotion and bias?
  • Are there any errors, such as spelling or grammar?

Authority: The source of the information.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who is the author/publisher/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is there contact information?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author? Ex. .com, .edu, .gov, .net,, or .org

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Do the authors make their intentions clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

If you need help, contact a librarian at 318.487.5443 ext. 1137/1931 or [email protected].

Scholarly Journals versus Popular Magazines

Characteristics Scholarly Journals

Popular Magazines




In-depth, detailed, long, statistical in nature Shorter, general information, current events, editorials



Specialist with subject expertise; credentials included Staff writer or journalist; credentials not provided



Scholars, researchers, students General public



Academic writing and vocabulary; industry/technical language/ terminology General, simple language; non-technical language/terminology



Structured: abstract, objective, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion Informal; no standard structure



Charts, graphs and tables; mostly black and white; few to no advertisements Photographs, advertisements, charts; often uses color



May be evaluated by peer reviewers (professionals in the field); edited by experts in the field Reviewed by editorial staff and/or fact checked



Professional organizations, universities, research institutes, scholarly presses Commercial publishers, corporate ownership



Bibliography and/or footnotes References may be mentioned in the text; no bibliography



JAMA: Journals of the American Medical Association Time


Questions to Ask about information from the Web

Evaluate the URL

  • What is the domain?
  • Who published the site?
  • Is there a link to a homepage where the document lives?
  • Is there a link to contact the webmaster?

Scan the perimeter of the page

  • Is there a "last updated" or "last modified" date on the page?
  • Does the site offer more information through the "about us" or "biography" links?

Quality of the information

  • Can the material on the site be corroborated elsewhere?
  • Are there links to additional resources? Are they current? Do they add credibility to the material?
  • What do the advertisements, if there are any, look like?

Tone of the page

  • Is it parody or satire?
  • Why was the page put on the web?

Domain Names

The website domain is at the end of the website URL and can provide clues about the website publisher.

.com - Commercial business and for-profit organizations; available for purchase by anyone

.edu - Educational institutions; can sometimes include personal faculty and student websites

.gov - United States federal government organization

.mil - United States federal military organizations

.net - Organizations directly involved in Internet operations and those subscribers that publish their own websites

.org - Originally designed for non-profit organizations; typically used for organizations that don't fit other categories

country codes - abbreviation such as ".de" for Germany or ".uk" for the United Kingdom