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Introduction to Research: Evaluating Information

This guide is a tutorial to help students learn the basics of library research

Finding the Best Sources

When you search for information, you are going to find a lot of information.  You might call it, information overload.  Is it good information?  You will have to evaluate what you find by using the CRAAP test criteria.  The CRAAP test is a list of questions to assist you in evaluating the information that you find.

Evaluation Criteria

Currency: the timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted
  • Does the topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Has the information been revised or updated
  • 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 the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on this topic
  • Is there contrast information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL revel anything about the author or source examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

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

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language tone seem unbiased and free from emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • IS the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

 

You can get "information overload"

Evaluating Information

Try thinking of the 5 W's for evaluation:

Who--who wrote it? Who are they and what are their credentials? Are they a reputable author in the subject? How do you know?

What--is the information consistent? Is the information factual? Does it fit with other information you have found in other sources?

Where--where did you find the information? Where was it published? Is that a reputable source?

When--when was it published? Current information? Historical information? Has the topic changed since the source was published?

Why--why was it published? To inform, to persuade, to convince? Think about bias of the author and of the publishing source.