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Mat-Su College: Writing

A guide for students taking Writing, particularly Writing 111, at Mat-Su College.

Introduction: evaluating sources

It's worth taking a moment to evaluate any source you find. Is it credible? Will it help you make your point, or will your readers scoff at it?

CRAAP: a checklist for evaluating sources

One popular way to evaluate a source is to apply the CRAAP Test. This is a series of questions you can ask about your source. There are no right or wrong answers to the individual questions or the test as a whole. The questions are guides to help you evaluate your source.

Currency: The time relationship between the source's publication date and my research need

  • When was the item written or last updated?
  • If the information is dated, is it still suitable for your topic?
  • How frequently does information change about your topic?

Relevance: The extent to which this source meets my research needs

  • Does the source meet the stated requirements of my assignment?
  • Does the source contribute to my research needs or answer my research question?
  • Who is the intended audience of this source?
  • If the information refutes your ideas, how will this change your argument?
  • Does the material provide you with current information?
  • How does using this source help me understand the larger conversation around this research question/need?

Authority: The author or creator of the information

  • Are there details about the author?
  • What is the author's level of education, experience, and/or occupation?
  • What qualifies the author to write about this topic?
  • What affiliations does the author have? Could these affiliations affect their position?
  • What organization or body published the information? Is it authoritative?
  • Does it have an explicit position or bias?
  • Is there an easy way to contact the author if I have questions?

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content

  • Was the information reviewed by others (editors or subject experts) before it was published? What citations or references support the author's claims?
  • Is information in the source presented as fact, opinion or propaganda? Are biases clear?
  • Can you verify information from referenced information in the source?
  • Is the information written clearly and free of typographical and grammatical mistakes?
  • Does the source look to be edited before publication? A clean, well-presented paper does not always indicate accuracy, but usually at least means more eyes have been on the information.

Purpose: The reason the information exists

  • Is the author's purpose to inform, sell, persuade, or entertain?
  • Does the source have an obvious bias or prejudice?
  • Is the article presented from multiple points of view?
  • Does the author omit important facts or data that might disprove their argument?
  • Is the author's language informal, joking, emotional, or impassioned?
  • Is the information clearly supported by evidence?

- Modified from The Information Literacy User's Guide, pp. 73-76, and Phoenix College's CRAPP detector handout.

Other evaluation checklists

There are other "checklists" of questions that you can use to evaluate a source.