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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

Research Skills for First-Year Seminars (FSEMs): ⭐ Evaluating Sources (required section)

 

⭐ This page is required for all FSEM students ⭐

Evaluating Sources

Not every source is worth citing! Librarians recommend evaluating sources using the CRAAP test. This acronym stands for:

Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose.

Evaluate the sources you find and decide for yourself which ones to trust. How do you evaluate a source? Watch this video.

Questions to ask yourself

Currency

How up-to-date is the information? In subjects like Biology and Psychology, the date of the source can be very important because information may become outdated. For subjects like History or English, the date of the source may be less important. 

When reviewing a source, ask yourself questions like:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Do I need historical or current information?
  • Has this information been revised or changed since it was first released?

BOTTOM LINE: Does this offer appropriately current or historical information?

Picture from Daytona State College Library

 

Use the left and right arrows to view all five elements of the CRAAP Test.

Relevance

Relevance

Is the information related to your topic? When looking for sources, it seems obvious to search for information directly related to your topic. Still, it's important to consider other aspects of a book or article, such as the intended audience and whether or not it's written at an academic level.

When reviewing a source, ask yourself questions like:

  • Does the information help you accomplish the purpose of your work/paper? Does this easily relate to your topic?
  • Does this source meet all your information needs or assignment requirements?
  • Is this source at an appropriate level for your intended audience?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources? Why is this source better than others?

BOTTOM LINE: Is this a source that adds value to your work? Why is it worth including?

Picture from Daytona State College Library

 

Use the left and right arrows to view all five elements of the CRAAP Test.

Authority

Authority

Who wrote the book or article? The author of a source is just as important as the information in it. Scholarly sources should come from experts in the appropriate field. Primary sources should come from authors with first-hand knowledge.

When reviewing a source, ask yourself questions like:

  • What expertise do they have with this subject?
  • What is their educational background?
  • Where are they from? Where are they living now?
  • What organizations or causes do they support?
  • Are there any other biases in their writing?
  • Who is the publisher?

BOTTOM LINE: Can you trust this author and publisher to know what they're talking about?

Picture from Daytona State College Library

 

Use the left and right arrows to view all five elements of the CRAAP Test.

Accuracy

Accuracy

Is the information reliable and correct? Information we find in scholarly articles should be trustworthy. The best scholarly sources have been peer-reviewed, which means the information has been double-checked by other experts. 

When reviewing a source, ask yourself questions like:

  • Are sources listed? Cited within the text?
    • Are these sources scholarly/academic?
    • When were these sources published?
    • Do these sources come from trustworthy authors/publishers?
  • Did the source conduct its own original research? If so:
    • What methods were used to collect the data/information?
    • What was the sample size or population?
    • Are there any weaknesses in the way that they gather or analyzed their data?
    • Do you feel that they provided adequate support for their conclusions?

BOTTOM LINE: Can you trust that this information is true?

Picture from Daytona State College Library

Use the left and right arrows to view all five elements of the CRAAP Test.

Purpose

Purpose

Why was the information created? It's important to consider the intention and why the information was created.

When reviewing a source, ask yourself questions like:

  • What is the purpose of this information source?
    • To entertain? Inform? Educate? Pursuade? Sell? 
    • Are advertisements included? Photographs?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propoganda?
  • Do the authors/publishers make their intentions clear?
  • Is there bias - political, cultural, religious, ideological, personal, etc?

BOTTOM LINE: Is this source objective and impartial, or is it influenced by bias or hidden agendas?

Picture from Daytona State College Library

 

Use the left and right arrows to view all five elements of the CRAAP Test.