ABCDE Method - New

This evaluation process will help you distinguish the good from the bad, the authoritative from the unsubstantiated, the timely from the outdated.

Answer as many questions as you can for the best evaluation. Comparison checklists are available to help you keep track of your responses to these criteria.

You should evaluate several websites before deciding on which one(s) to use.

On this page:

Authority

Check Inside the Website

  • Who is the author / publisher / source?
  • What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic? The website’s “About” page is a good place to start, but also Google the author to get more information.
  • Is there contact information?

Check Outside the Website

  • Do a Google search for the name of the organization or key people listed on the site. Are there any results disputing the author's or organization's credentials or reliability?
  • Look at the leads provided by Wikipedia in the References, Further Reading, and External Links at the end of articles.

Bias

There may be more than one viewpoint for a particular issue - you need to make sure you are aware of any bias in a source. Using a biased source is fine as long as you acknowledge the perspective and limitations of that source.

Check Inside the Website

  • Does the author / entity make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?

Check Outside the Website

  • Do a Google search for the name of the organization or key people listed on the site. Are there any results discussing the author's or organization's one-sided view of the issue?
  • Look at the leads provided by Wikipedia in the References, Further Reading, and External Links at the end of articles.

Content

Check Inside the Website

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level, i.e., not too simple or too advanced for your needs?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Does the information match other sources such as books and journal articles?

Check Outside the Website

  • If the website is making claims, consult a reputable fact-checking site.
  • Look at the leads provided by Wikipedia in the References, Further Reading, and External Links at the end of articles to see if the information is verified in other sources.

Date

Check Inside the Website

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated? Is there just a copyright date?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?

Check Outside the Website

  • Do a Google search to see if there is newer information than what the website you are reviewing has.
  • Look at what Wikipedia has to say about newer sources in the References, Further Reading, and External Links at the end of articles.

Evaluation

  • Are you comfortable citing this as a reputable source for your research paper or project?
  • Why or why not?

Comparison Checklists

How to Spot Fake News

Please also see our page about spotting fake news.