Login to LibApps.

International Student Library Guide: Evaluating Information

An Introduction to the Kraemer Family Library for International & ESL Students

Evaluating Information

It is important to critically examine potential sources for relevancy and reliability.  Below is a tool to help you evaluate information (books, articles, websites) in order to determine its' credibility before using it in an academic paper.

Should I use this source?

When looking at different sources, there are 5 different aspects you should consider to determine if the source is appropriate for academic use. For this class, we will use the CRAAP test.

(The CRAAP test comes from California State University, Chico. The original worksheet can be found here:http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf)

Currency: the timeliness of 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  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?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 related 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 the 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?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? (i.e. .gov, .edu, .org, etc.)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been peer-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?

Each category can be scored on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 1 being the worst and 10 the best) to get a score out of 50. That score can give you an idea of whether or not you should use the website.

50-45: Excellent - Use to your heart's content

44-40: Good - It's pretty good, but could be better in some areas.

39-35: Average - Still useable but be critical of the information being presented.

34-30: Borderline Acceptable - Use if you have to, but look for other stronger sources to fill in the gaps.

Below 30: Unacceptable - Avoid!