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Evaluating Information Sources: Home

Introduction

Reputable sources lend weight to your argument and help convince a skeptical reader that you made a credible effort to understand your topic.

Disreputable sources make your work look careless -- providing an easy excuse for critical readers to summarily dismiss your arguments.

This guide is designed to help you choose the kind of reputable sources that are likely to make a good impression. -- and earn a good grade.

The CRAAP Test

CURRENCY

  • When was the information published?
  • Is the information up-to-date for your subject?
  • How recently was the information revised or updated?

RELEVANCE

  • Does the information relate to your topic?
  • Is the topic covered thoroughly?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the content appropriate for unversity-level work?

AUTHORITY

  • Who is the author?
  • What are the author's qualifications and credentials?
  • Is the author affiliated with a reputable university, research center, or government agency?
  • Are the author's credentials related to the topic? Is a doctor of medicine qualified to write about car repairs?
  • Who is the publisher of the book, journal, or website?
  • Does the publisher have a reputation for publishing reliable and unbiased information?
  • Does the publisher use an editorial process to select documents for publication and verify their accuracy?

    Examples of reputable publishers are university presses (Oxford University Press, University of Texas Press), academic publishers (Elsevier, Routledge, Wiley), professional associations (American Psychological Association), well-established commercial publishers (Knopf, Macmillan), government agencies (National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Justice), and universities (except students' personal websites). 

ACCURACY

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Are sources of evidence listed in references or a list of works cited so readers can verify information by checking the original source?
  • Does the format and appearance seem professional? Are there spelling or typographical errors?
  • Is the information consistent with information you already have from other sources?
  • Does the publisher use an editorial process to select documents for publication and verify their accuracy?

PURPOSE

  • Does the author or publisher make their intentions clear?
  • Are they trying to teach, sell a product, entertain, or persuade?
  • Is the information one-sided?
  • Is there a cultural, political, religious, or personal bias?