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Intro to Library Research: Evaluate Sources

This guide is a starting point for doing research at Wardman Library, finding and evaluating scholarly resources, and getting additional writing help.

Evaluation Made Easy

Want to make evaluating resources easy? Use a library database!

A library database is more likely to return results that are scholarly or relevent to college-level research. Searching on the open web (via Google, for example) introduces you to material that is not quality controlled.

Is it possible to find scholarly information through Google? Yes, but it will require more work on your part to determine if the material is appropriate.

Question Authority!

The CRAAP Test for Evaluating Resources

Ask yourself the following questions to determine if a resource is appropriate for your research. 

Currency: The timeliness of the information.
  • When was the information originally published?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out of date for your topic?
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience? Is it for scholars or non-scholars?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source if asked to defend your claims?
Authority: The source of the information.
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased or free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear? Is there an abstract?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda? Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

(adapted from CSU-Chico's CRAAP Test)