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COMM 101 (Oral Rhetoric)

Why Evaluate

It's easy to take the first sources you find on the web or even in the library search tools' results, but we should aim to find the most effective sources for our research projects. This page offers some strategies for evaluating your sources and selecting the best ones.

Evaluation Criteria Checklists: Options

Checklist Option 1:  "4 R's - In the Osborn Public Speaking textbook, the authors recommend that when evaluating sources, you ask if the source meets these criteria:

  • Relevant
  • Representative
  • Recent
  • Reliable

Checklist Option 2: "CRAAP" - Another set of evaluative criteria you may have heard before is "CRAAP":

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

Checklist Option 3: "3 Scales" - In Hekman's own "Introduction to Evaluation" video, we boil it down further to:

  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Bias

Summary:  Any of these checklists can work!  Choose your favorite, or the most memorable to you. But remember, considering the context (purpose and audience) of sources is critical in your evaluation!

Another Approach: SIFT and Lateral Reading

Information literacy researcher Mike Caulfield has developed another method of evaluating sources, called SIFT:

Image credit: Mike Caulfield's SIFT (Four Moves), which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Lateral Reading: A closely related approach is "lateral reading," a technique used by fact-checkers to go outside websites or sources to investigate based on external (rather than internal) information and clues.

For a more in-depth guide to using SIFT and lateral reading, check out this guide from Rowan University's library.