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?
One of the most important components of the research process is evaluating the information you have found. Is it reliable and authoritative? Is it relevant to your research question? Is it a scholarly source?