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Introduction to Library Research: Evaluating Sources

A video presentation on starting your research using the resources at the Macdonald-Kelce Library at The University of Tampa.

Evaluating Sources using the CRAAP Test

CRAAP stands for: Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose

Use these assessment tools to evaluate what you're reading. Still confused about what news is trustworthy and what is fake? Read through our Fake News guide. 

Currency

  • The timeliness of the information:
    1. When was the information published or posted?
    2. Does the year published matter to your topic? Do you need the most up to date information or does that not matter?
    3. When was the information last revised or updated?
    4. Are the links on a website functional or are they broken?

Relevance 

  • The importance of the information as related to your topic:
    1. Is the information central to your argument or does it only briefly touch upon it?
    2. Who is the intended audience and is it at the appropriate level for you? Is it for the general public, grade school students, or scholars?
    3. Can you find better information elsewhere? Don't settle for the first articles that come up in a search. Maybe there is a book that covers your topic more thoroughly?

Authority

  • Who is the author?
    1. Are you able to find the author or editor easily?  If there is no author, can you tell who is the organization publishing the information? 
    2. Can you find the author's credentials? Are they a journalist, a university professor, a professional? Do an internet search to find out.
    3. Is readily available contact information provided (email, phone number, address)?
    4. Is the source reliable? Is it from a blog, a .gov site (government publication) or a .org site? Is it from a peer-reviewed academic journal or from a magazine?

Accuracy

  • The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content:
    1. Where does the information presented come from? Are the sources listed?
    2. Are the sources reputable? Does the author support their argument using clear evidence? 
    3. Can you verify the information in other sources or from your own knowledge? 
    4. Does the language or tone seem free of bias and emotion? Is the argument ideologically based or is it objective?

Purpose 

  • The reason the information exists:
    1. What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform? To teach? To sway your opinion? To sell a product or to entertain?
    2. Can you determine a possible bias, influence, or prejudice? This may be harder to determine - keep in mind the author and who is publishing the book or article. Is the institution or author affiliated with a religious or cultural organization? 
    3. Does the author make their intentions clear from the beginning? Do you detect propaganda or does the author make you aware that they are giving their opinion?
    4. Is the language neutral? Does the author consider all sides of an argument?