4. Evaluate information

* Not all that is published is useful
* Not all that is found is relevant for your paper
* Google does have lots of answers but not always the one you need

Before you decide on using a document to support your research paper you need to take a critical look at the information it contains.

The pertinence of a document depends on your specific needs and how you want to use it. A good way to determine if a document meets your needs is by using the CRAAP Test.


Posted with permission of the McMaster University Libraries

To summarize:
Currency
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Is the information current or out of date for your topic?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
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 one you will use?
Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority
Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?
What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?
Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

Accuracy
Where does the information come from?
Is the information supported by evidence?
Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
Does the language or tone seem biased or free of emotion?
Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose
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?

Summary by the Bluford Library, North Carolina A&T State University.
(This section was in part inspired by the Web guide Evaluating Sources, produced by Mary Northrup at Maple Woods Library, Metropolitan Community College.)