As you start collecting print, media, and electronic sources that match your topic and assignment, you’ll want to evaluate the sources you encounter. Even though a book, article, video, or webpage matches your search criteria and appears to be relevant, that does not mean it is necessarily a reliable source of information. Use the following questions to help decide whether a source is of high enough quality to use for your research project. Use the “CRAAP Test” to help decide whether a source is appropriate to use in your research paper or assignment.
- When was the information first published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
- Are the links functional?
- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
- 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?
- Who is the author, publisher, source, or sponsor?
- What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?
- 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)?
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence – does it include references or link to sources?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of 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?
- What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
- Do the authors or sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
Used with permission from Meriam Library, California State University, Chico.