After you have found sources that fit the assignment, make sure they are credible and academically appropriate sources. Use the “CRAAP Test” to help decide whether a source is appropriate to use in your research paper or assignment. You can also learn more about evaluating online sources in the credible websites section of the library website.
- 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.
Organizing Sources: Notes & Quotes
Establish a note-taking system that documents author, content, and page numbers of quotations. Keep track of which ideas belong to you and which come from other sources. Organize the quotations and references you want to use in your paper and build your bibliography or works cited page as you read. Be selective – be sure the sources you use are of good quality and are of an appropriate level and depth. Find a system of organizing your materials and notes that works for you. Here are some ideas:
- Use colored note cards or post-it notes to keep track of one author, theme, or idea throughout all your sources.
- Send citations and articles to your own email account; create an inbox folder for each assignment.
- Create your works cited page first; when you locate relevant books, articles, or websites, copy the citations into the document.
- Use a zip or thumb drive to save recent drafts of your paper and works cited page.
- Keep a copy of your paper and works cited page in your email inbox; each time you make changes, send a new copy to yourself and delete the older draft.
Citation Management Tools
These free tools can help you organize and manage your citations.