- Who provided the information? Is the name of the source of the information provided?
- If so, are credentials provided?
- Is the source considered an expert in the field?
- If the information is published, has it been published by a reputable organization or publisher?
- Is the work self-published? (Via a blog or by a "vanity press" - one that will publish anything for a fee.)
While self-publication does not automatically mean the work is not authoritative, it is essential that the researcher be able to identify the author and have enough information about the author to establish their authority.
Here are a few generalizations relating to this criteria:
(Keeping in mind that for this and other criteria there are always exceptions)
- University presses publish high quality materials.
- Professional organizations and associations are generally considered authoritative publishers of information relating to their professions.
- Major newspapers and news sites on the Internet (CNN, NPR, NBC, etc.) are usually considered authoritative in relation to the what, when, where, aspects of news stories. There can be bias in relation to the why or explaining the implications or causes of events, etc.
- Information found on .gov websites is usually considered authoritative.