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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

English 201: Library Research for Professor Poshusta

Fall 2023 ENGL 201-11

Evaluating Sources

Questions to Ask Yourself & Issues to Consider

The questions to answer for evaluating any source of information via the WHY Method are critical in determining the credibility and relevance of the source.

Who was the author?

For 201, you're looking for sources by academics with graduate degrees in the field, or journalists, or the author has professional expertise in the field. Though it's possible you will find corporate authors, especially with government information or non-profits.

How was it edited?

You're looking for peer-reviewed or professionally edited sources.

whY was this published?

The scholarly sources will fall under the Higher Education category, but quality sources could fall in Commercial, Non-profit, or Government.

Other Questions & Issues to Consider

As your examining the sources for answers to the WHY Method, don't limit yourself to what the source says about itself. Realistically, anyone can say anything they want about themselves. What's important is what others think. 

  • Google the name of the person or organization. See what others are saying about them. For organizations, if a Wikipedia entry doesn't pop up, it's clearly not an important organization.
  • Use NewsGuard. This is a free extension on Microsoft Edge. They offer detailed information on over 8,000 news sites and organizations. See below for how to add NewsGuard to your laptop.

Date - When was it written?

How important this criterion is depends on your topic. The harder part for some websites is locating a date. If it is a credible news organization, the date will be prominent.

Length & Comprehensiveness - How complete and balanced is the information?

Some sources will be relevant and useful, but do not give the reader a complete picture of the issue and ramifications, such as a blog post that is slanted to a particular perspective. The more comprehensive sources (and therefore the lengthiest!) will be especially useful at the beginning of your research, when you are still absorbing as much as possible about your issue.

But just because a source is not balanced does not mean it would not be useful. It just means you need to find sources with other viewpoints as well.

Evidence - What evidence does the source use to back up assertions? Is the information sound? How does it compare with other sources?

This is the most important criterion to judge your source. But it is the one that takes the most time, because you have to know enough about your issue to judge the soundness.

Adding NewsGuard to Web Searches

NewsGuard thoroughly evaluates over 8,000 online news sites. Use Microsoft Edge browser and download the extension for free. (Otherwise it's a subscription service, $4.95/month.) Use it on laptops. (NewsGuard claims it will work on the app version on mobile devices, but it isn't in the settings for Apple iOS.)

Adding NewsGuard to Microsoft Edge

Within Microsoft Edge, click on Microsoft Edge in the toolbar, then Microsoft Edge Extensions. Search newsguard and click to add it.

When you click the Get button, it prompts you to create an account in NewsGuard. Click the Sign In button, top right corner, and either create an account or sign in with an existing Apple, Facebook, or Google account.

Once you've created a Newsguard account, it appears to want a credit card for the subscription. Ignore that, scroll down to the bottom, and it says Not ready yet? Maybe later. Click the Maybe later link, and it will add the extension.

Using NewsGuard

Once you have NewsGuard installed, you'll see a blue icon with 0-100% to the results list in Google, or at the top next to the URL when you are on a site that NewsGuard has evaluated. The bigger the percentage, the higher the credibility score. Hover over the icon to bring up a short evaluation of how well it follows journalistic standards. Click on See the full Nutrition Label to view a detailed analysis, with references. (You may also run into a gray icon for platforms like YouTube, or an orange icon for satirical sites like The Onion.)

results of hovering over the Newsguard icon, previewing the full nutrition label