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SOCY 429: Pandemic Surveillance

A library research guide to support SOCY 429: Pandemic Surveillance

Evaluating Sources

As you consider whether the sources you found are reliable think about the following questions: 


  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Is the content primarily opinion? Or is it balanced with multiple points of view?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?


  • Who is the author/creator/publisher/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations provided? What are they?
  • What the author's qualifications or credentials in writing about this subject?
  • Does the information provide references or sources of data? 
  • If it's a web-based source, does the URL reveal anything about the source? Examples include .com .edu .gov


  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • If it's a web-based source, are the links functional?


  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors 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?


  • 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?)
  • Have you examined a variety of sources before determining to use this one?
  • Does the information/source meet your assignment requirements?

Citing Sources

Knowing how to cite another person's work properly helps you to:

  • give credit and acknowledge their ideas
  • avoid plagiarism
  • direct readers to the sources on which your research is based

For more information about how to cite sources in a specific citation style, consult the Library's Guide to Citing Sources.