Skip to Main Content
Ask A Librarian

Native American Studies Research Tutorial and Tournament

A guide to searching, obtaining, evaluating, and citing sources for your Native American Studies research assignment.

Big Ideas about Reliable Sources

What makes an online source, or any source), reliable?

The credibility, or reliability of a source is indicated by a lack of bias and presence of facts. Look for scientific methods, complete disclosure, and transparency. Show the proof, cite the source. Avoid generalizations, unsupported claims., and truthiness.

Merriam-Webster. (April 2020) 'Truthiness': Can Something "Seem," Without Being, True? When you just know. Dictionary. Words at Play.

Authority Is Constructed and Contextual


  • view authority with an attitude of informed skepticism and an openness to new perspectives, additional voices, and changes in schools of thought
  • know how to seek authoritative voices but also recognize that unlikely voices can be authoritative, depending on need

Key Questions to Ask and Aspects to Consider

What is the context? 

The given context and audience define the characteristics of authoritative evidence.

Use the right tool/source for the job! 

How a source is used determines its authority. The practitioner must always consider the contextual evaluation of sources.

Whose voices are being left out of this conversation? 

Recognize that traditional notions of granting authority might hinder the diversity of ideas and worldviews that get heard and shared.

What are you bringing to this conversation? 

Evaluate sources using a variety of criteria in order to cultivate a skeptical stance and self-awareness of your own biases and world views.

It’s not all relative! 

It can be challenging not to fall into subjectivity. No matter what the context, there are going to be better and less good sources.

Questions to Ask Yourself About Criteria to Evaluate Information Resources

Author or creator 

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What, if any, are their credentials (ex. Ph.D.)?
  • What are their lived experiences?


  • To whom the information source is directed? 


  • Why was the source created?
  • What is the source intended to do?


  • How well does this source connect to your information need?
  • What do you need to know?
  • Does this information source answer your question?
  • Is the information source tightly connected to your information need or loosely connected?


  • When was the information source published?
  • Does the publication date matter?
  • Is this a case where the date does not matter or one in which the most recent information is the most valuable?