Evaluating Sources Using the 5 Ws
There are many different methods for evaluating sources of information. One way to evaluate an information source is based on the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
Who wrote it?
- Author’s name
- Contact information
- Qualifications and/or credentials
- Publisher or sponsoring organization
What kind of information does it have?
- Does the information relate to your topic or help answer your question? (Note: this doesn’t mean that the information agrees with your argument.)
- Is the information at the appropriate level for your research?
- Intended audience
When was it written or last updated?
- Date of publication
- Date of revisions or updates
- Does your topic require only the most current information, or are older sources acceptable?
- Websites: Are the links functional?
Where did the content come from?
- Are there references or citations? Is there a bibliography?
- Was the information reviewed or refereed? By whom?
Why was the source created?
- Point of view being presented
- What is the information meant to do to the reader? (Inform, teach, sell, entertain, persuade?)
- Is the intention or purpose clearly stated?
- Websites: What does the domain tell you? (Examples: .com – commercial; .gov – government; .org – organization (but what kind of organization are they?)
Click here to learn about evaluating sources using the CARP Test.
Last edited 9/29/14 (LP)
Adapted from a source evaluation test by Jessica Olin