Evaluating online sources

Source evaluation–the determination of information quality–is something of an art.  (Robert Harris 2018)

The sheer volume of information available can make evaluating online resources daunting. In “Evaluating Internet Research Sources,” Robert Harris makes the case for adopting a skeptical attitude toward the extremely wide variety of material on the internet. He makes one analogy I was particularly fond of, suggesting that in order to corroborate information, one must become a discerning conoisseur:

In the art world, several paintings by Vincent van Gogh have sold for more than 50 million dollars each. At such a price, there muist be the temptation for unscrupulous people to paint forgeries. So  how can the buyers be confident that they are getting a genuine Van Gogh? The answer is provenance. Provenance is a list of previous owners, tracing back to the original buyer from Van Gogh himself. Provenance answers the critical question, “Where did this painting come from?” (Harris 2013).

File:Vincent van Gogh's famous painting, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com  2.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Vincent van Gogh, Irises (1889) digitally enhanced, original from the J. Paul Getty Museum. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Harris also provides a CARS handy nemonic device for source evaluation, reminding researchers to consider:

CCredibility (trustworthy source, author’s credentials, organizational support, known or respected authority)
AAccuracy (up to date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive, audience and purpose reflect intentions of completeness)
RReasonableness (fair, balanced, objective, reasoned, no conflict of interest, absence of fallacies or slanted tone)
SSupport (listed sources, contact information, available corroboration, claims supported, documentation supplied)
Adapted from Harris (2013)


For my research I selected Matthew Bloom’s “Assessing the Impact of ‘Open Pedagogy’ on Student Skills Mastery in First-Year Composition,” in Open Praxis (2019).

As a faculty member and OER scholar at Maricopa community College, Bloom proves to be an authoritative source, and he published his findings in a reliable, peer-reviewed journal. It appeared recently (2019) meaning it is reasonably up to date, and has detailed analysis of the experiment and findings. Furthermore Bloom seems to be aware of any issues in the methodology demonstrating he has engaged with the subject thoughtfully and has been truthful in considering the impact of his assessment. Finally with a comprehensive list of references he provides convincing evidence for the claims made and other sources to support and document his research.

My selected article easily meets the criteria proposed by Harris in his test of source credibility, The CARS Checklist for Information Quality.

#LiDA101 #DigitalLiteracy #diglit #opened #oer #oep

Bloom, M. (2019). Assessing the Impact of “Open Pedagogy” on Student Skills Mastery in First-Year Composition. Open Praxis, 11(4), 343-353. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.11.4.1025

Harris, R. (2013, December 27). Evaluating Internet Research Sources. Retrieved from http: //www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm

One thought on “Evaluating online sources

  1. Nice – I see you have tagged this post and it has been successfully harvested for the course feed. Note: When using a dedicated tag field in WordPress, you don’t need to include the “#” tag. BTW good assessment of the credibility of your source.

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