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Resources for Online Students: Evaluating

Evaluation Guides



CRAAP Test by librarian Sarah Blakelee (2004), CSU Chico. 

The process of evaluating a source includes examining the source itself and examining other sources.

Use the CRAAP Test to help you determine if the sources you found are accurate and reliable. Keep in mind that the following list is not static or complete. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

* indicates criteria is for web sources only

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional? *

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 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 for a research paper?

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 given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net *

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 and 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 the information fact? opinion? propaganda?Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

How to Use a Source

BEAM ideas for what a writer can do with a source

Types of Information

University of West Florida, John C. Pace Library (4:06)

There are three videos in the Starting Your Research tutorial series (Research Questions, Narrowing a Topic with Mind Mapping, and Types of Information) with a quiz that covers all three videos. The quiz can be emailed to the instructor or instruction librarian.

This video covers the purpose (what they are good for) and main features (how to identify) of encyclopedias, news articles, scholarly articles, and monograph books.  This video explains that knowing the differences, especially in light of the lack of physical cues in digital resources, will help students be able to properly cite resources. This might be a good video to include on a LibGuide or have students watch it prior to a class session; the content could be made to connect with a BEAM lesson. The sound cuts off if you try to play the video after the initial title screen with U of WF’s branding (just play it from the beginning), and end the video at 4:02. Journalists is misspelled in the video.

  1. What kinds of information sources are there?
  2. What are the purpose and main features of encyclopedias?
  3. What are the purpose and main features of news articles?
  4. What are the purpose and main features of scholarly articles?
  5. What are the purpose and main features of monograph books?
  6. What is the difference between a monograph and an anthology?

Media Bias Chart

Chart with media sources and their bias