Quick Reference for Credible Sources

Below is a quick reference guide for determining if your sources are credible.  Use this resource while researching for your argumentative research essay.

Examples of sources that are often the most credible:

  • Official government websites (.gov)
  • Institutional sites that represent universities, regulatory agencies, governing bodies, and respected organizations with specific expertise (e.g., the Mayo Clinic, .edu, .org)
  • Peer-reviewed journals
  • Reputable news sources
  • Primary source

Examples of sources that are often considered less credible:

  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Web forums
  • Individual or business websites
  • Materials published by an entity that may have an ulterior motive
Factors to Consider Least Reliable Possibly Reliable Most Reliable
Type of Source Unfamiliar website Published material Official websites, institutional sites, academic journals
Author’s background Uncredited (Unsure of what their background is in relation to the topic) Educated on topic Expert in the field
Date published None listed Outdated Recently revised or written
Depth of review Controversial reviews (may have comments about information being incorrect) Good public response; general approval as correct Peer-reviewed by reliable sources (i.e.: other experts on the topic)
Sources cited None listed Credible sources Citations referencing other well-cited works
Objectivity Clearly biased Sponsored source Balanced, neutral

Remember, there are always exceptions!  Use your best judgement and if you’re not positive that a source is credible, err on the side of caution and check it out or choose another source.

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