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ENGL 1101 Online: Evaluating Sources

Video tutorial-based guide for English 1101 Online

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Evaluating Sources for Quality and Relevance

  • Evaluating sources with the CRAAP test
  • Evaluating News Sources
  • Judging Relevance

Evaluating Sources

The CRAAP Test

You want the right information source for the job. Use the following criteria when selecting your sources.
Tip: You can control some of these with search limiters.

  • Currency - Is the information up to date?  Look at the copyright and the dates of the sources the author used.
  • Relevancy - Is the information relevant to your topic? The title, subject terms, and abstract can help you decide.
  • Authority - Is the author an expert in the field? A journalist who did background research? Someone telling their personal story? Consider if the author has the type of authority required for the type of research you are doing. Look for information about the author before or after the article, or look them up on the web to find out about their work and credentials.
  • Accuracy - Is the information supported with facts? Are those facts well-documented so you can check the original source? Are the facts presented consistent with other credible sources?
  • Purpose - Is the intention to present information or persuade? Is the language inflammatory, designed to get an emotional response, or is it a rational examination of the issue?  Also consider the intended audience: Is the information presented too basic or too advanced for your purposes?

Judging relevance

Once you're done your search and narrowed it to information sources that fit your criteria for type of resource, being scholarly, an acceptable date range, etc., how do you judge which are most on-topic?

  • Title -- your keywords in the title are a great sign, but also think in terms of more global subjects.  For example, an article called "Hemingway in Spain" might contain something about  Hemingway and bullfighting.
  • Subject terms.  The subject terms are all major topics of the article.
  • Abstract.  The abstract is a summary of an article, so that's a great way to find out what the article is about before reading the whole thing.
  • "Find" function.  Use Ctrl+F or look for a search function in a PDF to look for your keywords.  Reading a brief passage surrounding your keyword to get an idea if the article might be relevant.
  • Skim - Sometimes none of the above give you a clue and you need to skim the article to determine its suitability for your project.

Evaluating News Sources

News sources also need to meet the CRAAP test criteria, but there are some special considerations for news. Particularly be wary of stories on social media and sensationalized stories on 24-hour news networks.

How to Spot Fake News infographic

Infographic from International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

Want to know more?