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SOAN 357

Source Evaluation

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CARS Method of Source Evaluation

The Internet has made finding information easy, but the influx of information at your fingertips makes your job of evaluating resources that much more important. You need to make sure that you are only using the most reliable information for your research. The CARS (Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support) method of evaluating is a good tool to help you decide if the article you just found is worthy of your paper. 

Fill out the document below to evaluate the sources you will use.

 CARS Checklist for Source Evaluation Worksheet.docx Click for more options



You want to ensure that your source is authoritative and credible. You also need to make sure that the source includes reliable evidence that you trust. 

Who is the author or publisher?

  • What can you find out about the author?
    • What is their education?
    • Have they published anything else?
  • Who produces the journal, website or book?

Is there a mechanism for quality control?

  • Does the information come from a peer-reviewed journal?
  • Is there an editor or editorial staff?



Ensure that your source is presenting information that is correct, up-to-date, detailed, exact, and comprehensive. 

Is it timely?

  • When was the source published?
  • Has knowledge of the topic changed since the publication date?

Is it comprehensive?

  • Does the article present information from both sides of a debate?
  • Does the article support its claims with strong evidence?

Who is the audience?

  • Is the information meant for general readers, scholars, or leaders in the field? 
  • Is the article easy to read?
  • Does the article use technical language or jargon specific to the field in which it was written? 

Is it accurate?

  • Does the author cite where they got their information? 



Ensure that your source's approach to the information is fair, objective, moderate, and consistent. 

Is it fair?

  • Why is the author writing this piece? To inform? To sell? To persuade?

Is it objective? 

  • Can you discern any bias?

Is it moderate?

  • Does the article present facts in a calm manner, or does it use emotional language?
  • Does the article present evidence in a way that makes sense? 

Is it consistent?

  • Does the article contradict other research that you have found on the topic?



Use sources that are supported by evidence and clearly cite the evidence that they used. 

How does the source cite its sources?

  • What sources were used?
  • Is there a bibliography or links to sources?
  • How often does the author cite evidence?
  • Are the sources cited valid? Up-to-date? Related to the arguments presented in your source?