Skip to main content
UCF Libraries Home

Public Administration

Evaluating Sources

Guidelines for Evaluating Sources

When using information from any type of source, first consider the credibility of the source based on these guidelines:

  • Authority — Who is the author? Is an author listed? What is their point of view? 
  • Purpose — Why was the source created? Who is the intended audience?
  • Publication & Format — Where was the source published? Is the source associated with a recognizable and reliable academic publication, government, or private organization?
  • Relevance — How is the source relevant to your project, paper, or research? What is its scope?
  • Date of Publication — When was it written? Has it been updated?
  • Documentation — Does the sources cite and/or refer to related sources? Are those cited sources reliable?

Academic disciplines acknowledge authorities in the sense of well-known scholars and publications and subject expertise (e.g., peer-reviewed/referred scholarship). However, various types of sources reflect different types of authority, such as government organizations (e.g., national, state, international websites) or special online collections (e.g., historic events websites, public policy websites).

Authoritative content may be packaged formally or informally and may include print, electronic, or media sources of various types. As you write your own papers or conduct your own research, recognize the responsibilities of seeking out accurate and reliable sources based on the information needed, and respecting the intellectual property of authors by giving credit to their original ideas and appropriately citing sources used in your writing.


Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). (2015). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Retrieved from

Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). (2000). Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.

Citing APA Style

Check with your professor about requirements for citation styles.  The current APA style is published in: The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 6th edition. Copies of the APA style guide are available at the John C. Hitt Library (main campus) on the 2nd floor.

Online APA Resources are also available at: