Evaluating Sources

You're out there in the literary trenches, finding all kinds of sources, but is the stuff you're finding good enough to make it into your project?  Before you decide to include a source you uncover in what you write, subject it to the CRAP test.  You can use these questions as guidelines for evaluating any kind of source, from websites, to scholarly articles; from books, to everything in between.  Does your source pass the CRAP test?  If the source is "CRAP," it's a good thing!

  1. Currency: When was this resource published?  Given your topic, will current or historical information be more useful?  Maybe a mix of both to compare how things were then to how things are now?
  2. Reliability: Is this information balanced?  What publisher is putting out this resource?  Are there references telling you how the author is supporting his/her ideas?
  3. Authority: Who is this person writing this source, and why is what he/she says something you should care about?  Have they written other articles on this topic?  Are they thought of highly in their research communities?
  4. Purpose/Point of view: Is this fact or opinion?  Is it biased, and if it is, in what way?

(From the Five Colleges of Ohio Information Literacy Tutorial).

In the information landscape, websites are particularly wily beasts.  They can be tricky to figure out.  For more tips on evaluating information, especially the stuff you find in websites, go to: