SOWK 536: Policy and Advocacy in Professional Social Work: Evaluating Your Sources - How do I know this is reliable?

Research guide for students in SOWK 536.

Understanding the Information Cycle

Understanding the information cycle will help you to better know what information is available on your topic and better evaluate information sources covering that topic. View the short video below from USC Libraries to learn more about how information is distributed, shared, and changes over time. 

Evaluating Popular or Web-Based Sources

When finding non-scholarly resources, ask yourself the following questions to determine if they are appropriate to use:

Currency: Is this source up-to-date? Might there be newer sources that contradict, expand, or support this source?

Relevancy: Is this source relevant to my topic or question?

Accuracy: Is this source accurate? Does its logic make sense to me? Are there any internal contradictions? Does it link or refer to its sources?

Authority: Who created or authored this source? Could the author or creator bring any biases to the information presented? Is the author or creator a reputable or well-respected agent in the subject area?

Purpose: Is this source intended to educate, inform, or sell? What is the purpose of this source?