Skip to Main Content
[NJIT Library Logo]

Mechanical Engineering

Quick Guides

Evaluation of Information Sources: Critical Questions 

Determine if and why the author is qualified to write about the subject. 

Explore the credentials and/or other writing of the author to see if s/he is an expert on the subject. 

Identify and explain at least three reasons why this source is good.

What editing or review processes were used by the publisher that helped ensure the accuracy and quality of this source.

Context and Relevance

  • Does the source include information that is pertinent to your own work?
  • Does it clarify or enhance your understanding of the subject under investigation?

The User Context: The most important factor when evaluating Web sites is your search, your needs. What are you using the Web for? Entertainment? Academic work? Hobbies or avocational interests? Scholarly sources are traditionally very strongly text-based. Compare the appearance and the content of an academic journal with a popular magazine.

The Web Context: Some of the visual distinctions that signal the nature of content in print sources hold true on the Web as well, although, because the Web encourages wider use of graphics, Web versions of printed works usually contain more graphics and more color than their print counterparts. Color graphics appeared on the New York Times Web site before they appeared in the printed New York Times, for instance.

Compare the Web versions of Child Abuse and Neglect (NJIT only), Mississippi Review (free to the public), The New York Times, U. S. News, and the National Enquirer.

(sourceOlin Library Reference, Research & Learning Services, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA)


  • Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
  • If data are included, is the source of the data indicated?
  • Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors? (These kinds of errors not only indicate a lack of quality control, but also can actually produce inaccuracies in information.)
  • Is it clear who has ultimate responsibility for the accuracy of the content of the material?
  • Does the data/information make sense?


  • What is the purpose of the site?
  • Is the information intended for consumers, employees, investors, students, researchers, specialists, or experts?

Quality of the Page

  • Do the links work?
  • Is the page well organized and easy to navigate?

New Jersey Institute of Technology
University Heights, Newark, New Jersey 07102-1982
(973) 596-3206
Contact Us | Ask A Librarian |  Map & Directions | A to Z Site Index

Copyrighted 2020 | Robert W. Van Houten Library