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Consider the Source: Examining Credibility

Examining Credibility

The easiest way to check the credibility of an author who claims expertise is to "Google it!"

Google the author's name (in quotes) along with the topic or publication.  

If your author is a news reporter, other articles by the same author may appear in your results.  What publications do they write for?  Are these publications that would expect unbiased coverage?

If your author is a subject expert, you should see professional affilations and writings in your results.  What universities, businesses, and organizations is your subject connected to?  What scholarly journals have they published in?

If no author is evident on the website, check the credibility of the sponsoring web site.  If you "author" is an organization or business, you should find a page that oulines the mission or agenda of that group.  Does the group have something to gain from publishing the article.  Would that gain bias their sponsorship in anyway.

If you are looking at a Wikipedia, take the time to review the history and discussion pages for info on editing contributors and disputes that threaten credibility.

The same techniques can be used to check the opinions presented  within an article by experts interviewed by the author.

Who is the author, anyway?

Identifying the author is not always easy.  In fact, the person(s) responsible for a resource are not even always authors.  They may be editors.  Or others. They may even be a group of people who identify as a single entity (such as a corporation or organization).  

Still, identifying the author is KEY establishing source credibility.  

  • Look for a byline.  Oftentimes an individual author will "sign" his or her work at the top of an article (beneath the title) or at the bottom.  
  • Look in the navigation menu.  Is there an ABOUT US page?  This often provides the best information about a sponsoring organization or website creator.
  • Look at the bottom of the page.  An organizational name? Is there an address?   Try using these as a means of finding out more information online.  Search the business name online.  Is it legitimate?  What message would you expect the business (considering what it sells) to support. Is it a real address (check on mapquest).  

Questions to Ask


Academic qualitfications:  

  • Is the author a student? 
  • A professor/instructor? 
  • A researcher?  
  • What universities or organizations is the author affiliated with?

Published research: 

  • Has the research been published in a peer reviewed journal?  (Remember, peer-reviewed means peer pressure!  No one wants to look foolish among peers!)  
  • Has the research been published in a book?  
  • What is the reputation of the publishing company?


  • Has the author worked in a topic related field (i.e. law, medicine, etc.) that would give them special insight?  
  • Have they gained a reputation (awards, etc.) that lead you to believe that they are respected for their opinions?


Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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