Skip to main content

Physics: Evaluating Sources

Subject Research Guide -- Physics (General)

  Evaluating Information Sources: Use START

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 START to help you do that evaluating.

Scope
Treatment
Authority
Relevance
Timeliness  

Scope (coverage)

  • Does the content reflect the author's knowledge of the subject matter?
  • Is the author aware of current trends?
  • Is the topic covered in-depth?
  • Are bibliographies, works cited, and relevant web links offered?
  • What is offered here that cannot be found elsewhere?

Treatment (accuracy, objectivity)

  • Is the information presented coherently? Are there typos?
  • Is the information accurate and verifiable?
  • Is the information objective or is bias evident?
  • Is the information being used to influence the reader and serve the author's purposes?
  • Who is the intended audience? 

Authority

  • Is the author or source of information easily identified?
  • What are the author's credentials and expertise?
  • Is the publisher or Web site sponsor reputable? 

Relevance (coverage) 

  • Does the information address your topic?
  • Does the information support or contradict your point of view?
  • Can this information be used to verify another source? 

Timeliness (currency)

  • When was the information produced or published?
  • Is the information still useful regardless of the date of publication?

  Evaluating Web Pages

Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask

 Finding Information on the Internet: A Tutorial from Berkeley library