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Research: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources

Remember, your use of sources is a means of supporting the argument you make. This means that you need to evaluate the sources you reference to make sure that it is credible and authoritative. How can you tell if your source is suitable? Look at some of the following resources to help you decide if you should use the source for your assignment.

CRAAP Test

Click here to go to a text version of this diagram

Used with the permission of Bryan Kasik, University of Virginia Library

CRAAP test in detail

Currency

When was the information published?

Has it been revised or updated since?

Does your subject area change frequently and need the latest information e.g. nursing?

How old is too old?

On a website are all the links working?

Relevance

Does the information answer your question or topic?

Is it written at an appropriate level for you (i.e. not written for children or too advanced for your needs)

Can you understand what the author is writing about?

Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?

Would you be comfortable citing this source in a research paper?

Authority

Who is the author/ publisher/ creator?

What is the authors background, credentials or qualifications? Can you find information about the author easily?

Are they qualified to write on the topic?

Is there contact information such as a publisher?

Does the URL reveal anything about the source e.g URLs which have .gov or .govt are from government departments. Universities and other educational places usually use .ac or .edu

Accuracy

Where does the information come from?

Can the information be found in other sources?

Has the information been published in a peer reviewed or scholarly journal?

Has the author listed their sources?

Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?

Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose

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?