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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Communication 101

Library information and resources for CMN 101 classes.

Determining Credibility

No matter what type of source you would like to use, what format it is in (print, web, or multimedia), or where you find it, there are many questions you can ask as you evaluate your sources. 


  • Can you determine why the source was published?
  • Is this source seeking to persuade, provide an opinion, or sell something?
  • Can you determine the intended audience?


  • Is the author/creator of the source identified?
  • Does the author/creator have credentials that are relevant to the topic?
  • Can you easily find out more about the author? (Try Google)


  • Can you determine who published the source?
  • Is the publisher a for-profit company?
  • Does this publisher have a known editorial bias? (Look for an "About" or "About Us" section)

Sources Cited 

  • Does the author/creator cite or reference their sources?
  • Are things taken out of context or misrepresented? 


  • Is the information current?
  • Does the scope of the information align with your topic?
  • Is most of the source content relevant to your topic?

Evaluating Database Records

Step 1: Evaluating the Database Record

Read each part of the database record to find information on the credibility of your source. Remember, looking at the database record can only give you so much information. Always take the extra step to Google the author, learn about the publication, and skim the source itself before deciding whether to use it. Mouse over the image below to see where each part of the Credibility Quick Guide can be used. Click on the images to view them via

Going Beyond the Database

Step 3: Look at the Full Text of the Source

Opening the full article will give some additional information beyond what the database provides, including the full text of the article to read.


Step 4: Search for the Author

A Google search of the first author listed gives a professional summary, including his educational background and other publications.