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Mat-Su College: Writing

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

Introduction: evaluating sources

So you've found a source you think you could use in your paper. It's worth taking a moment to evaluate that source. Is it accurate? 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. Instead, you can use the questions as guides to help you evaluate your source.


  • When was the item written, and how frequently does the publication it is in come out?
  • Is there evidence of newly added or updated information in the item?
  • If the information is dated, is it still suitable for your topic?
  • How frequently does information change about your topic?


  • Read the article's introduction, thesis and conclusion. Scan main headings and identify article keywords.
  • Does the item contain information relevant to your argument or thesis?
  • For book resources, start with the index or table of contents -- how wide a scope does the item have? Will you use part or all of this resource?
  • Does the information presented support or refute your ideas?
  • If the information refutes your ideas, how will this change your argument?
  • Does the material provide you with current information?
  • What is the material's intended audience?


  • 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 the source well-documented? Does it include footnotes, citations or a bibliography?
  • 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.


  • 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.