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Political Science: Evaluating Sources

Subject Research Guide
Subjects: Law, Political Science

Evaluating Sources

The Iona College Libraries' Evaluating & Understanding Resources Research Guide has a wealth of information that can assist you in assessing the validity of sources.  

Evaluate Using the CARDS Method

Regardless of the type of resource you are examining, always evaluate the accuracy and reliability of the information you find before using it for your research. Use the acronym CARDS to help you do that evaluating. Consider the following when determining the quality of an article or source:

Use C.A.R.D.S.


C = Credibility:

  • Is the author, publisher, or sponsor of the information evident? What are their credentials, reputation, education or affiliations? 
  • Is there an "About Us" or "Contact Us" link?  Besides an email address, is there
    a phone number or postal address to contact for more information?

  • If it's a book or article, is the author reputable? Does the reference have a
    bibliography?Is the information still valid today?


A =  Accuracy:

  • Do you see errors on the page (spelling, grammar, facts)? Errors like these not only indicate a lack of quality control, but can actually produce inaccuracies in information.

  • Do they cite the sources of their information? 

R = Reliability:

  • Is the source objective or does it advocate a certain point of view?  Use objective sources first, but consider using those advocating different points of view as well.

  • Is the information free of advertising or clearly separated from it?

D = Date

  • Are there dates for when it was written or when it was last revised?

  • Do any statistics, graphs, or charts clearly state when the data was collected?

  • Are there links which no longer work?

S = Source:

  • Is the information based on primary or secondary sources? 

  • Are there links to other sources that would score high in this C.A.R.D.S. evaluation?



How to Choose Your News

With the advent of the Internet and social media, news is distributed at an incredible rate by an unprecedented number of different media outlets. How do we choose which news to consume? In this video, Damon Brown gives the inside scoop on how the opinions and facts (and sometimes non-facts) make their way into the news and how the smart reader can tell them apart.

Analyzing News Sources

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources

Tips for analyzing news sources:
  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).

  • Watch out for websites that end in “” as they are often fake versions of real news sources.  

  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.

  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.

  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.

  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).

  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.

  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.

  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY, it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.

  • If the website you’re reading encourages you to dox individuals (doxing is searching for and publishing private or identifying information about someone on the Internet, typically with malicious intent), it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.

  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.

(c) 2016  by Melissa Zimdars. (Made  available  under a  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  International  License.)

Illustration by Jim Cooke