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POLS-410: Comparing Canada

Evaluating Sources

Ideally, everything you find through the library's tools would be legitimate e.g. peer-reviewed and/or scholarly. That is not always the case. Whether you have identified a resource through Google or a scholarly index like Proquest Politics you must critically evaluate every source before you use it.

There are a number of convenient checklists that have been developed to help you evaluate websites. Two of the most well-known checklists are included below: RADAR and CRAAP. Either option provides a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you retrieve from the web, whether scholarly in scope or not.


Option #1 for Evaluating Sources: RADAR


  • How is this information relevant to your assignment? Does it relate to your research question?
  • Consider your audience and compare the information source with a variety of sources.
  • Who is the author?
  • What makes this person or organization an authoritative source?
  • When was this information published and is the publication date important to you?
  • Where are they getting their information from?
  • Does it have citations and references?
  • Are they using reputable sources or explaining how they gathered their data?
Reason for Writing
  • The timeliness of the information.
  • Is the information biased?

Adapted from Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sourcesJournal of Information Science, 39(4), 470-478.

Currency: The timeliness of the information.
  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?
Authority: The source of the information.
  • Who is the author / publisher / source / sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)?
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors / sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

For a handy CRAAP worksheet, refer to this rubric attributed to Central Library MCHS. It prompts you to score a site on each of the CRAAP criteria to come up with a final score that could range between a potentially "highly questionable source" to a "excellent source for research."

Citation Metrics

Known more popularly as "JCR," Journal Citation Reports  provides evaluation of Social Sciences journals based on citation data, or how often an article is referenced by researchers.

Sorting by Journal Impact Factor (JIF) using Journal Citation Reports (JCR), determine which journals in a discipline are making the greatest contribution to the publishing history of an idea by measuring citation frequencies. In Political Science, JCR ranks approximately 187 journals against each other.