The 5 w's (who, what, where, when, and why) are the questions that journalists use to quickly gather the facts to understand a complete story.
Use these same questions to get the whole story on your sources- if you are unsure about the answers to these questions when applied to your sources, then you should consider searching again.
Who created the information?
-Do they have the education, experience, expertise to write about this topic effectively?
Whom was this information created for- children, general audiences, scholars, professionals in the field, etc?
-Is this an appropriate level for the your research?
What is the content of the information?
-Are the conclusions of the author supported by evidence in the form of citations, footnotes, a bibliography or other references?
What do other authors say about the same topic?
Where is the information published or available?
-Does the publisher have any political or financial affiliations that may impact the way authors report their research?
-Where does the money for research originate?
When was the information created?
-Have any significant events occurred that impact the conclusions of the information?
-Were new studies conducted on the same topic since this information was published, how do the conclusions compare?
For web content: when was the information last updated?
Why was the information created?
-Is the purpose of the information to inform, entertain, convince, or sell something to the reader?
-Do the authors appear to have any biases or other motivations for creating the information?