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Evaluating Sources

Evaluation Criteria

There are various criteria or questions you can apply when evaluating sources, but the "CRAAP Test" is an easy-to-remember mnemonic.

Evaluating Resources Using the "CRAAP Test"

Criteria

Questions to Ask


urrency

  • When was the source written and published?
    • Remember that while recent information is often considered more useful, sometimes older sources can be more comprehensive or authoritative.
  • Has the information been updated recently?
    • Look for a "Last Updated" note at the bottom of the page (website) or check the copyright page for the date of publication (book).
  • Is currency pertinent to your research?


elevance

  • Does the source cover your research topic comprehensively or only cover one aspect?
  • To what extent does the source answer your research question?
  • Is the terminology and language used easy to understand?
  • Does the source meet the requirements of your research assignment?


uthority

 

  • Who is the author (person, company, or organization)? Who else cites or refers to this source or author?
  • Does the source provide any information that leads you to believe the author is credible or an expert on the topic?
    • Look for an "About" (website), a byline (article), or entry on a "List of contributors" (book or journal).
  • What are the credentials or reputations of the author, publisher, and/or sponsoring organization?
    • Ask a librarian or professor familiar with the subject.
    • Check the library catalog, research databases, or the free Web to see what else the author or organization has published.
    • Consider the audience, and check to see if the source is scholarly and/or peer-reviewed. (See our guide to Finding Scholarly and Peer-Reviewed Articles).
  • Can you describe the author's background (experience, education, knowledge)?
  • Does the author provide citations? Do you think they are reputable?


ccuracy

  • Can facts or statistics be verified through another source?
  • Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate?
    • Verify information by checking other sources.
  • Does it provide enough information?
  • Is the information or source of a high quality? Is it appropriate for an academic research project?


urpose

 

  • What is the purpose or motive for the source (educational, commercial, entertainment, promotional, etc.)?
    • Check the web domain (.edu, .com, .org, .gov).
    • Check the "About Us" or "Mission" links (website).
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the author pretending to be objective, but really trying to persuade, promote or sell something?
  • Is there bias or slant to how the information is presented?
    • Check with a professor, librarian, or even search the web to see what others say about potential bias.
    • Consider whether the bias or viewpoint affects the usefulness of the information for your project. (In some cases, a biased source may be ok, if you acknowledge or present that bias in your writing.)