Skip to Main Content

To access Safari eBooks,


Evaluating Sources

Tools and strategies for finding sources, evaluating them, and then citing them properly.

What is Bias?

Bias is...

  • slant or inclination toward something.
  • a partiality or preference toward one point of view over another.
  • neither bad nor good. Everyone has biases.

MAPit Strategy

Use the MAPit Strategy to help determine if a source is biased:

Message: Look critically at key information in a source.

  • What type of content is presented? Fact or opinions?
  • Are there sources that can confirm the information cited?
    • Are they credible sources? Are they scholarly journals, news articles, editorials?
    • Is the research sponsored by an industry that could benefit from the findings?
  • Is the tone of the language neutral or is it loaded?
  • Is more than one point of view presented or is it one sided?
    • Balanced - includes other points of view
    • One-sided - ignores other points of view
  • If multiple points of view are covered, are they presented in a fair (accurate and neutral) manner or unfair (selective or negative) manner?

Author: Consider the writer's background and credibility.

  • An author is considered credible when:
    • their educational background matches the topic at hand.
    • when they are affiliated with respected groups or publications
    • when there work is subjected to review by other experts on the topic

Purpose: Is the source known to be partisan? Does it promote one particular point of view?

  • What is the mission statement of the publication or organization?
  • Who is providing funding?
  • Who is on the Board of Directors or Editorial Board?
  • Look at links to other publications or organizations to identify a particular bias toward one point of view.

Understanding & Identifying Bias

It's important to understand & be able to identify bias when you are researching because it helps you see the purpose of a source and determine the reliability and accuracy of the information.

Use the following questions to help you identify bias:

Who created the resource?

Whether it's a book, journal article, website or photograph, sources are influenced by the ideas of the person who created them.

Think about:

  • the creator's reputation, occupation, and expertise.
  • whether the creator is presenting the whole story; you will need to read widely to get all perspectives to determine whether the creator is an expert on the topic.

When was the resource created?

Any type of source you look at will reflect the society and time in which it was created. So, it's useful to think about the events, people, ideas - or historical context - that surround it.

Keep in mind that:

  • the time between the event and the time of writing 
    • depending on the event there may be more information that comes to light after a time or details maybe more accurately reported right after the event too place
  • older documents show us what life was like in the past, and can also reveal attitudes that may be uncommon or unacceptable today
  • particular formats - such as diaries, emails, video, text messages, etc - reflect the era in which they were created, so think about what the format reveals about the resource
  • even if the resource is only a few years old, it may not be the most up-to-date information, especially if it is part of an ongoing study or changing theories.

Why was the resource created?

Writers, artists, historians, photographers and other creators will sometimes use their work to persuade people about a particular viewpoint or interpretation of an idea or event. So, it's important to work out why the resource was created.


  • the creator's purpose is, more often that not, the message you remember long after you've finished reading or looking at it
  • look for a range of opinions that are supported by different sources 
  • if there's a references list, are the sources cited reliable and credible.

Who was the resource created for?

Many different kinds of resources are created for many different audiences. So, it's important to think about how the intended audience has affected the format and overall message in the resource.

Ask yourself: 

  • Who is the target audience?
  • Did the creator intend for their work to be looked at by someone else?
© 2023 Franklin University Nationwide Library - Frasch Hall, First Floor 201 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43215 614.947.6550 or 1.866.341.6252 | Fax: 614.461.0957 |