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Evaluating for credible, authoritative, reliable sources: Relevancy

Context and tips for how to evaluate sources, including web sites, so you can use credible, authoritative, reliable sources

"R" is for relevancy

Relevancy refers to the appropriateness of the source for your needs.

Common pitfalls

The source that I found meets my requirements for authority, accuracy, bias and currency. This means that it's a perfect match for my information needs!

Hold on one minute. There's one more step to take before you can use your source. Even if the source passes your other areas of evaluation, if it is not relevant to your information needs, then it's not appropriate to use.

Questions to ask about the relevancy of a source

Ask yourself these questions when thinking about if a source is relevant or not:

  1. Is the information you found related to and useful for your topic and assignment?
  2. Is the source the appropriate type for your needs? For example, do you need a book or a scholarly journal article? Do you need primary or secondary sources of information?
  3. Is the information too broad or too specific?

Remember the context!

closeup detail of a keyboardSometimes it's very important to evaluate a source's relevancy to your information needs.

For example, if you are required to use primary documents in a research paper about colonial America, it's important to find primary documents about colonial America as opposed to secondary documents about World War II.

Other times, it's not as important to evaluate a source's relevancy.

For example, if you want to find general information about your favorite reality TV star, you don't have to worry so much about the type of source you use or the scope of the information.


Image source: "Keyboard keys with light" by Ysangkok, WikiMedia Commons is in the Public Domain

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Except where otherwise noted, the content in these guides by Tacoma Community College Library is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0.

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