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Anyone can publish anything on the web, so it's extremely important to evaluate the information you find there.
It's also important to think critically about sources you find elsewhere. Yes, even from the library. :)
The resources on this page will help you with this.
CRAAP Test Plus
- 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?
- 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 / 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
Scholarly vs. Popular Sources
Most of your college writing and research assignments will require you to use academic or scholarly sources instead of popular sources you may be used to.
Here are some ways to tell them apart.
- Are written by an expert on the subject
- Are written for scholars and researchers
- Use language specific to the field
- Include a list of references
- Contain verifiable facts
- Are often written by a journalist or writer, not an expert
- Are written for a general audience
- Use everyday language
- May not include references
- May rely more on opinions vs. facts
Evaluating Sources for Credibility