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Library Research Guides

ENGWR 300 - Professor McQueen (Fall 2020): Evaluating Sources

What Should I Do on This Page?

The information on this page is critical for helping you learn how to find credible online sources, so strive to make sure you have a firm understanding of the content before you move on.

First, read the content in the "Finding Authoritative Sources on the Internet" box, then watch the Critically Evaluating Websites video. 

Second, read through the questions on the CRAAP Test evaluation tool. After you've watch the video and read the CRAAP Test,  use whichever evaluation tool that makes the most sense to you. Both methods can be used to evaluate sources you find online and through the library.

Remember, if you have any questions about how to evaluate sources, you can email me or contact any one of the ARC librarians.

Finding Authoritative Sources on the Internet

In the video below, you'll learn tips that will help you find credible internet sources appropriate for an academic assignment. 

Before you watch the video, read the following for an brief introduction to some of the essential keywords and concepts that will be introduced:

  • Currency - when considering the currency of a site, you'll examine the date it was updated and/or when the content was published.
  • Relevancy - to determine relevancy, you'll want to consider whether the source is relevant or appropriate for your topic.
  • Objectivity - an objective source will strive to report from an unbiased and impartial or neutral position.
  • Authority - an authoritative source should be written by a qualified author whose credentials or experience support their credibility to report on the topic being written about.
  • Quality - the quality or professionalism of the site may be an indicator of its credibility.

Near the end of the video, you'll hear the narrator say, "there's not single indicator of the quality or credibility of a website", and that is definitely true.  In order to find credible sources, it's imperative that you use your critical thinking skills and the terms above to evaluate the sources you discover before using them in your research.

Remember, if you have any questions about this process or the information in this video, please contact me.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Libraries

CRAAP Test Plus

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

clock

  • When was the information 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?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

puzzle piece

  • 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?

Authority: The source of the information.

People

  • Who is the author / publisher / source / 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)?

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

target

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

Money

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors / 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?

+Plus: How is the information impacted by the dominant culture? 

infinity

  • Who benefits from the story that is being told?
  • Whose voices, concerns, and experiences are included? Whose are excluded?
  • What assumptions are made? What unexamined beliefs does the author appear to have? What is the author unconscious/unaware of? 
  • What power dynamics are at work?

Original CRAAP Test created by Chico State Librarians. Plus questions inspired by the work of Angela Pashia.