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Searching: E - evaluating

Use this guide to learn how to search effectively for information sources

The Importance of Evaluating Information

There is a lot of content on the web which may not be suitable for use in academic work.  You are therefore advised to make sure that the information source you use passes the CRAAP test before you use it and cite from it. CRAAP stands for 'currency', 'relevance', 'authority', 'accuracy' and 'purpose'.

The CRAAP Test

It is important to evaluate where and what you search and find.  One way to do this is to try out the CRAAP test for websites, books, articles and a range of resources. The graphic below from Humber Libraries at Humber College shows that CRAAP is an acronym for:

Currency

Currency relates to the timeliness of the resources

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is it important to have current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are all the links working?

Relevancy

Relevance relates to the importance of the information to you

  • Does the information relate to your research or answer your question?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level, i.e., not too simple or too advanced for your needs?
  • Have you looked at a range of of sources to be able to judge that this sources is relevant?
  • Are you comfortable citing this as a reputable source for your research paper?

Authority

Authority relates to the souce of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/?
  • What are the author's/organisation's credentials?
  • Is the source trustworthy or qualified to write on the subject?
  • Is there contact information and is it easy find out more about the author/organisation?
  • If it is a website, what does the URL (.com .ac .gov .org .net) say about the source?

Accuracy

Accuracy relates to the reliability of the resource  

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by correct evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another reliable source?
  • Does the language or tone seem balanced, unbiased and free from errors?

Purpose

Purpose relates to the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? (i.e. inform, argue, teach, sell, entertain, persuade)?
  • Is the purpose clear and the point of view impartial or are there biases?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?

Acknowledgement

The CRAAP Test was developed by the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico.