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Evaluating Sources

A guide to evaluating the credibility of the sources of information you use in your assignments.

What to consider

First Nations peoples have rich cultures, histories and ways of knowing that enhance the world in so many ways. However, works about or by First Nations peoples should be evaluated before being used.

  • Who is telling the story? 

    Libraries are full of works by white writers who have published about First Nations peoples. These writers may (or may not) have communicated or acknowledged First Nations people's knowledge accurately or appropriately.

  • Is using the work appropriate? 

    Works should not be utilised if they are not accurate, authentic, balanced or culturally appropriate.

It may not be easy to find resources that comply with the checks below - try and be respectful. Find out more with the AIATSIS evaluating and selecting education resources guide. 


  • Genuine iconIs the resource current/up-to-date?
  • Did First Nations peoples participate in the development of the resource?
  • Does the resource perpetuate out-of-date ways of thinking, e.g. terra nullis, there was no Indigenous slavery in Australia?
  • Does the resource provide insight into First Nations people's rich cultures, histories and ways of knowing?
  • Is the content relevant to your community or location? 


  • Balance iconDoes it contain stereotypical content, e.g. derogatory language, negative framing?
  • Are the roles of males and females given equal coverage and respect?
  • Does it recognise there are hundreds of distinct First Nations groups on the Australian mainland and on surrounding islands? Check out the Gambay Frist Languages Map or the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia to find out more.
  • Does it recognise that First Nations peoples cultures continue to evolve and grow?

Culturally appropriate

  • Utilise with respect iconDoes the resource use respectful and appropriate terminology?
  • Does the resource share content that is secret or sacred and should not be shared?
  • Does the resource contain images of deceased First Nations peoples which may cause distress? Do you need to include a cultural sensitivity warning?
  • Have you obtained permission to use the resource, or will using the resource infringe the creator's copyright or intellectual property rights?

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country

Creative Commons Licence
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.