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Welcome Abbott Lawrence Academy Students

This is a guide to help ALA students get started using McQuade Library!

Evaluating Author Credibility

5 W's

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? What? Where? When? Why?

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?

  • How does the information in this source compare to the conclusions and evidence of other authors?

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?