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Smart Student Research Guide

Step 8: Evaluating Information
Skip to Step 9: Citing your sources


When evaluating an article for use in a research paper, one important distinction is whether the article comes from a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal or from a popular magazine. For an explanation on the differences between these two types of periodicals, check out this video from the Peabody Library at Vanderbuilt University:

The C.R.A.A.P. test is a method for evaluating an information source based on the following criteria: currency, reliability, accuracy, and purpose/point of view. It is especially important to carefully evaluate information found on the Web. As you review your information sources, consider these questions:

Currency -
How recent is the information?
How recently has the resource been updated?
Is it current enough for your topic?

Reliability -
What kind of information is included in the resource?
Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is is balanced?
Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

Authority -
Who is the creator or author?
What are the publisher's credentials?
Who is the publisher or sponsor?
Are they reputable?
What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?
Are there advertisements on the website?

Accuracy -
Where does the information come from?
Is the information supported by evidence?
Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
Can you verify the information in another source?

Purpose/Point of View -
Is this fact or opinion?
Is it biased?
What is the purpose of the information? Are they trying to entertain, inform, persuade, market a product, or teach?
Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?

The C.R.A.A.P. test was created by the Meriam Library
at California State University, Chico.

See also...
Five criteria for evaluating Web pages by Cornell University Library

Evaluating Web pages: techniques to apply and questions to ask by UC Berkeley

Evaluating websites by University at Buffalo Libraries

Evaluating books by University at Buffalo Libraries

Evaluating periodicals by University at Buffalo Libraries