Evaluating Sources of Information

Given the million of journal articles, ebooks, and web pages available freely online and through the library databases, it is often difficult to find articles that suit your research needs.  To find information that suits your needs, apply the CRAAP test.  Ask yourself if your sources meet the following criteria:
  • Currency - Does your topic require current sources?  Or can you afford to use older sources?  If viewing a web page, when was the last time the page was edited?  (Checking the no. of hyperlinks is a good indicator of the currency of a web page).  Not all research topics require time-sensitive resources, although some do.
  • Relevance - Does the information match your research assignment?  Is it written for an appropriate level of expertise (ie advanced, beginner)?  Have you considered a variety of sources prior to selecting this one?
    • Do you need a broad overview of a topic or do you have a very specific research question?  If searching for a broad topic, you might want to begin with a book or a reference work, like an  encyclopedia or dictionary.  If you have a narrow topic, you might want to search articles.  
  • Authority - Who is the author?  What are his/her credentials?  Has the author published on this topic previously?  Does the author provide contact information, such as place of employment?  Who published the information and is the publisher reputable?
  • Accuracy - Has the author verified his/her assertions with research?  Have others verfied the author's claims?  Does the language of the article indicate a desire to persuade, criticize, or support an argument? Does the article/book/web page contain typographical/grammatical errors?
  • Purpose - Does the author intend to persuade? Inform? Spread propoganda? Is the author/published biased towards a certain ideology? 

Evaluating Articles: Peer-Reviewed Journals vs. Popular 

Evaluating Websites for College Level Research