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Evaluating Sources: Introduction

This Guide is intended to help library users evaluate sources and critically read journal, magazine and news articles.

General Information and Some Methods for Evaluating Information

In academic research it is important to evaluate the sources you find for several reasons.

When looking at sources you find in a search, the first question to ask is - "is the information in this source relevant to my research question?" Is the source going to help you in creating your paper or presentation? Is the information current enough for your needs? Is the source free of spelling and other writing errors? 

The following items make up the CRAAP Test, which you can apply to every source you find. For detailed information, click the CRAAP Test link:

  • Currency: Is the information current (and does your research topic require current information)?
  • Relevance: Does the information relate to your topic or help answer your question? This is very important!
  • Authority: The source of the information. Can you identify who wrote it and what their credentials are? Internet searches for various topics often find papers and projects by K-12 students, so beware!
  • Accuracy: In today's world, this is critical. Questions to ask include:
    • Where does the information come from?
    • Is the information supported by evidence?
    • Can you verify the information in another source?
  • Purpose: Why does the information exist?
    • Do the creators or posters of the information make their intentions clear?
    • Is the information presented fact, opinion or propaganda?
    • Is there obvious bias in the source (not necessarily a bad thing in editorials or opinion essays, but you need to be aware of it).

Source: Chico State University


Calling Bullshit - This interesting site actually consists of many tools for spotting and calling out misinformation and also is (or was) a class at the University of Washington.

The ABCs of Information Literacy & How to Spot Fake News