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Evaluating Resources: Tutorial

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Evaluate sources based on currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.
  • Identify bias.

Evaluating Sources: The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP test contains questions to determine the reliability of a source. The importance of the various criteria will depend on your specific topic or need.


The timeliness of the information.
  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Is the information you want to use still relevant and accurate?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • If it is a website, are the links functional?

Even when information is written by well-regarded scholars and published by reputable publishers (e.g., Harvard University Press), it is important to consider when it was published. For example, ask yourself: What is the nutritional information on the role of sugar in the American diet today? What was it 10 years ago?


The importance of the information for your needs.
  • Is the information you’ve discovered about what you are researching?
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your questions?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

A single topic can have many aspects. For example, if you are researching the Crusades, you might focus on the religious beliefs, the Islamic point of view, the economics of the campaigns, the role of the kings, the Catholic Church, the history of each Crusade, the geography, the sociology, or even the arms and armor. Make sure you select sources that are relevant to the specific topic you are researching.


The source of the information.
  • Who wrote or produced this information? What credentials does the author have to be writing on the subject?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)

Reputable newspapers, like The New York Times, are usually reliable sources, but not always. OpEd/Editorial columns are opinions. Most major magazines and newspapers have these, and they aren’t necessarily backed up by facts or research. Consider who is responsible for the content. Make sure the author's statements can be verified by other sources that have done studies to confirm these findings. The same advice goes for books, websites, and documentary films.


The source of the information.
  • Do you think the information is correct?
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed?
  • Can you verify the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?

You need to take a minute to evaluate what you are reading. Even if the author sounds convincing and the information is published in a book, on a website, in the newspaper, consider how plausible the information is. For example, The Breitbart News published the following headline: "South Korean Media Report U.S. Navy Seal Squad Training to Kill Kim Jong-un." The source of the report was listed as a North Korean newspaper. Is the information true? Verifying with another, more trusted source would be advisable. In the era of “fake news,” verifying the accuracy of your information is important.


The reason the information exists.
  • Why was this information created?
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information face, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

This can be a tricky one to investigate, but it is important to check who is responsible for this information. Do they have another motive to come to a particular conclusion? Check the bottom of the page or the contact information. Many films, articles and websites publish paid content that looks and reads like regular editorially reviewed content. Make sure you analyze what you're reading and understand that there may be a bias in the content. When in doubt, verify using the criteria outlined above.


About the CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test was designed by the Meriam Library California State University, Chico.

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