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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

Evaluating Information: Home

A research guide to evaluating print and online resources


You've found some resources for your assignment, but should you be using them?  It's easy to find articles in databases and websites on the Internet, but are your search results reliable?  Are they appropriate for your research needs?

With so much information available, both print and online, researchers have to develop skills in evaluating the resources they locate.  For example, will Val Greenwood's The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, published in 1973, contain links to up-to-date genealogical websites?  On the other hand, should you look for only current material?  Many casual readers and scholars view David McCullough's 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning Truman as the best biography of the former president. 

When you research your paper, you can evaluate your resources by using the criteria and questions in the UMW Libraries' PAPER test: Purpose, Accuracy, Point of View, Expertise, and Relevance (see tabs above).

Bear in mind that these criteria are meant not as rigid checklists but as broad guidelines that can help you as you do your research.

These criteria and questions are based on the CRAAP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose). This test was created by Sarah Blakeslee of the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico.  The questions in the tabbed sections above have been adapted or reprinted from this original set of evaluation criteria and are used by permission of the Meriam Library.  UMW librarians are responsible for the examples that illustrate the questions.