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IF I APPLY: Evaluating Sources: Home


This guide contains information about IF I APPLY, a system for evaluating sources for research.
What does it mean to evaluate a source?
  • To evaluate a source means to look for details within the publication about its purpose, author, and think about how you can use the source in your own research.
Why would I want to evaluate my source?
  • You want to evaluate sources to understand your own bias and think about how to avoid writing a biased research assignment. Evaluating a source you find through the library databases or Google will help you to think critically about how the information ended up in front of you.

IF I APPLY: A Tool for Evaluating Sources

IF I APPLY steps

Personal Steps:

Identify emotions attached to topic.

Find reference sources and evaluate bias for a proper view of the topic


Intellectual courage to seek authoritative voices on topics that may be outside of thesis.

Source steps:

Authority established. Does the author have education and experience in that field?

Purpose/point of view of source. Does the author have an agenda beyond education or information?

Publisher. Does the publisher have an agenda?

List of sources (bibliography). Is the evidence sound?

Year of publication. Does the year of publication affect the information?

Ways to incorporate IF I APPLY into your class

At the UW Libraries, we have many options for helping your students learn how and why to evaluate sources.
  • Research Guides
  • Information Literacy Instruction
  • Asynchronous Learning Activities
  • Synchronous Classroom Discussion led by the instructor

Please reach out to your UW Libraries liaison or contact for more information!

Instructor-led activities resources:

Process Questions

We've put together a list of questions students can ask themselves when evaluating sources using IF I APPLY.

I – identify emotions attached to a topic

  • What are your honest opinions regarding the topic?
  • Have you addressed your internal biases?

F-- Find reference sources and evaluate bias for a proper view of the topic

  • Conduct a search in a resource like CQ Researcher, Opposing Viewpoints, or another reference source to find background information on your topic. 
  • Look at the bias/perspective of your reference source as well

I -- Intellectual courage to seek authoritative voices on topic that may be outside of your thesis

  • Identify credible materials for all the viewpoints (yours and others with differing viewpoints)

A -- Authority established

  • Who is the author and what are their credentials?
  • Does the author have education and experience in that field?
  • How objective, authoritative, and reliable are the authors?
  • Do they authors specialize in publishing/writing in certain topics/fields?

P -- Purpose or point of view of the source

  • What can be said about the content, context, style, structure, and/or accuracy of the information provided by the source?
  • Are conclusions offered? What information and evidence did the author supply to support their conclusion?
  • Are diverse perspectives represented?
  • Why was the information provided by the source published?
  • What are the perspectives, opinions, assumptions and biases of whoever is responsible for this information?

P -- Publisher

  • When was the information published?
  • Is the information provided by the source in its original form or has it been revised to reflect changes in knowledge?
  • Is the publisher scholarly? Commercial? Government agency? Self-published?
  • Is the information timely and is it updated regularly?

L -- List of resources

  • Where else can information provided by the source be found?
  • Is the information authentic?
  • Is it unique or has it been copied?

Y -- Year of publication

  • What makes the information "current" or relevant?
  • Can you find more current or relevant information? 
  • Is the cited information current?

CC BY NC This list of questions was provided by Kat Phillips, Eryn Roles, and Sabrina Thomas