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Cluster 72: Sex: From Biology to Gendered Society

ABCD Method for Evaluating a Source of Information

Many research papers require "academic" or "peer-reviewed" sources. Others require "popular sources," which can include newspapers and other media, among others. How can you tell if a source you find in your Google search is reputable and/or should be used for your research paper or project? There are many methods used in the fields of information literacy and media literacy that can be helpful; one is the ABCD method. ABCD stands for Author, Bias, Content, and Date. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when evaluating a source of information:


  • Who is the author?  

  • Are they an expert in the field? An eyewitness? Is it a primary or secondary source?

  • Who are the publishers/researchers/fundraisers? Look for an “About Us” tab or similar.

  • Beware of anonymous authors or use of vague phrases like, “sources say”


  • Does the source cover multiple perspectives on an issue in a neutral manner?  

  • OR does it seem like the author is trying to sell you something or convince you of something?


  • Is the material relevant to your topic? Can you easily explain it to someone else?

  • Is the information supported by evidence? Was it evaluated or peer reviewed before publication? 

  • Are there any spelling or grammatical mistakes?


  • Is the information still current or has the information in your source become outdated? 

  • For websites, check for broken links as an indicator if the page has not been maintained over time.

Lateral Reading and SIFT

Lateral reading is an approach to evaluating online sources. Named for the row of browser tabs that often result, reading laterally involves looking for information from other websites that can corroborate (or not) your original source. Who are the people responsible for the content? What else have they published online and elsewhere? What are others saying about this person or topic? Note the language used in the original source. Is it copied verbatim on other pages? Can you find other sources that look at the same topic, organization, individual, or event from another perspective?