The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb and Joseph M. Williams includes a discussion of evaluating sources for their relevance and reliability, an issue in the front of the minds of new research explorers everywhere. I found these point particularly helpful and user-friendly, along with the admission that “these indicators do not guarantee reliability . . . So, don’t assume that you can read uncritically just because a report is written by a reputable researcher and published by a reputable press.”
Excerpts taken from section 5.4.2 “Evaluating Sources for Reliability”
You can’t judge a source until you read it, but there are signs of its reliability:
1. Is the source published or posted online by a reputable press?
2. Was the book or article peer-reviewed?
3. Is the author a reputable scholar?
4. If the source is available only online, is it sponsored by a reputable organization?
5. Is the source current?
6. If the source is a book, does it have a notes and a bibliography?
7. If the source is a Web site, does it include bibliographical data?
8. If the source is a Web site, does it approach its topic judiciously?
9. If the source is a book, has it been well reviewed?
10. Has the source been frequently sited by others?