Answered By: Priscilla Coulter
Last Updated: Sep 15, 2022     Views: 1842

What makes a source reliable? To determine whether a source is reliable or not you must look at certain criteria. 

Accuracy is one of the four criteria. 

Inaccurate information is useless to you, no matter what kind of research you're doing.  Protect yourself from misinformation by:

  • Look for citations.  Authors who cite their sources are giving you a pathway to the information that they used to write their article, web page, book, etc.  You can track down those citations to be sure that the original source is accurately quoted or summarized.
  • Avoid using statistics or "facts" from a site that you suspect is biased.  Learn how to spot bias here.  An organization or individual that wants to persuade you is more likely to "massage" data to fit their own agenda.
  • Question claims made by an author who is not an expert in the subject he's writing about.  Click here to learn how to determine if an author is an expert in his/her field.  Is no author given?  Look carefully at the site host/publisher to make sure it's reputable and unbiased.
  • Be a fact checker.  Can you find any additional sources that corroborate a questionable fact, statistic or claim?  If not, think twice about using it.   Click here for fact-checking tips.
  • Stick with scholarly sources!  These have quality-control measures in place and are far more likely to be accurate.

See also:

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