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EDUC F200 | ACP Indiana University

Library resources for Bloomington affiliates and non-affiliates to discover Education scholarship

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.

from the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (2015)

RADAR Method

Rationale is important because books, articles, and web pages are made to serve a purpose. Remember that no information is completely free from bias because the positionality of the authors always impacts their perceptions. The rationale may include intent to educate, entertain, or sell a product or point of view. Some sources may be frivolous or commercial in nature, providing inaccurate or false information. Other sources are more ambiguous about any potential partiality. Varied points of view can be valid as long as they are based on good reasoning and careful use of evidence.
  1. Why did the author or publisher make this information available? 
  2. Is there obvious and/or extreme bias or prejudice?
  3. Are alternative points of view presented?
  4. Does the author omit any important facts or data that might disprove their claim?
  5. If there is emotion, what is the purpose?
  6. What tone is being used?
Authority is important in judging the credibility of the author's assertions. In a trial regarding DNA evidence, a jury would find a genetics specialist's testimony far more authoritative compared to testimony from a professor in English.
  1. What are the author's credentials?
  2. How is the author related to your topic?
  3. Is the author affiliated with an educational institution or a reputable organization?
  4. Can you find information about the author in reference books or on the Internet?
  5. Do other books or articles on the same research topic cite the author?
  6. Is the publisher of the information source reputable? 


Date, or currency, is important to note because information can quickly become obsolete. Supporting your research with facts that have been superseded by new research or recent events weakens your argument. Not all assignments require the most current information; older materials can provide valuable information such as a historical overview of your topic. In some disciplines, the date of the source is less important, while in others it is very important.


  1. When was the information published or last updated?
  2. Have newer articles been published on your topic?
  3. Are links or references to other sources up-to-date?
  4. Is your topic in an area that changes rapidly, like technology or science?
  5. Is the information obsolete?
Accuracy is important because errors and untruths distort a line of reasoning. When you present inaccurate information, you undermine your own credibility.
  1. Are there statements you know to be false?  Verify an unlikely story by finding a reputable outlet reporting the same thing.
  2. Was the information reviewed by editors or subject experts before it was published?  Was it fact-checked?  How do you know?
  3. Do the citations and references support the author's claim? Are the references correctly cited?  Follow the links.  If there are no references or bad references, this could be a red flag.
  4. What do other people have to say on the topic? Is there general agreement among subject experts?
  5. If applicable, is there a description of the research method used? Does the method seem appropriate and well-executed?
  6. Was item published by a peer-reviewed journal, academic press, or other reliable publisher?
  7. If there are pictures, were they photo-shopped in?  Use a reverse image search engine like TinEye to see where an image really comes from.
  8. For trusted websites, what is the domain?  Fake sites often add ".co" to trusted brands (e.g.


Relevance is important because you are expected to support your ideas with pertinent information. A source detailing Einstein's marriage would not be very relevant to a paper about his scientific theories.


  1. Does the information answer your research question?
  2. Does the information meet the stated requirements for the assignment?
  3. Is the information too technical or too simplified for you to use?
  4. Who is the intended audience?
  5. Does the source add something new to your knowledge of the topic?
  6. Is the information focused on the geographical location you are interested in?

from Evaluating Sources: Using the RADAR Framework, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University