Evaluating & Understanding Resources: Evaluate a Source
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:
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:
Can you find the copyright 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?
You can always consult a librarian at the Reference Desk.
If you do nothing else, check the author. The first step to credibility is a name brand. If there is no author, or your author doesn't come up as the author of anything else, the article is probably not credible. If you can't trust the writer, you can't trust what s/he wrote.
Locating Fair and Balanced Sources: Skills and Tools
Try a Checklist
Note the Domain Name
Note the internet address domain, e.g. "climate change" site:gov
.com (commercial or business)
.edu (educational institution)
.gov (government agency)
.mil (military organization)
.net (network resource)