Skip to main content

Evaluating Information - The CRAAP Test: Welcome

This guide will help you learn how to evaluate the information you find using some simple guidelines. Is your information solid or is it a piece of...?

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test* is a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

The CRAAP Test starts by asking questions about Currency: 

Is the information current enough for your needs?

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?  Are there newer developments on this topic?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links or references to other sources functional and up-to-date?
  • Is your topic in an area that changes rapidly, like technology or popular culture?

Compare the two websites listed below.

 -adapted from the Meriam Library at California State University Chico and Gettysburg College Musselman Library

You're writing a paper on social media privacy concerns. Which of the following websites do you think has the most current information for you to use in your paper?
Website One: 95 votes (27.86%)
Website Two: 246 votes (72.14%)
Total Votes: 341

The next criteria in the CRAAP Test is Relevance.

Sometimes, you can only determine the relevance of a piece of information after you've considered all of the other criteria.  Here are some questions to keep in mind:

How important is this information for your needs?

  • How does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Does the source add something new to your knowledge of the topic?
  • Who is the intended audience?  Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too simple or advanced for your needs). 
  • Could you explain the information in this source to somebody else?
  • 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?

Compare the two websites below.

You're writing a paper on social media privacy concerns. Which of the following websites has more relevant information for your paper?
Website One: 193 votes (74.81%)
Website Two: 65 votes (25.19%)
Total Votes: 258

The next criteria to consider is the Authority of the information:

Is the information in this source provided by someone I should trust on this topic?

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author’s credentials given? Are the authors affiliated with a reputable organization or institution?
  • 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? (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)?
  • Do other books or authors cite the author?

Compare the two websites below.

You're writing a paper on social media privacy concerns. Which of the following websites would you consider the most authoritative for your paper?
Website One: 51 votes (22.87%)
Website Two: 172 votes (77.13%)
Total Votes: 223

The fourth criteria to consider is Audience:

Who is the intended audience of this piece of information?

  • Is the level of the site geared toward general readers, students and scholars, or specialists/professionals in a field?
  • Does it use technical or scholarly language?

  • Does it assume the reader is well-educated in one particular discipline?

  • Does the content of the site touch on several different topics or explore one issue or topic in detail?

 

Compare the two websites below.

You're writing a paper on social media privacy concerns. Which of the following websites do you think is intended for a scholarly audience?
Website One: 177 votes (76.29%)
Website Two: 55 votes (23.71%)
Total Votes: 232

The last criteria is to examine the information's Purpose:

(although this is the last letter in the acronym, you might need to think about the relevance again after you've looked at all the other criteria...it doesn't matter if the information is on your topic if you don't trust its purpose, authority, or accuracy, right?)

Why is this information here?  What purpose does it serve?

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Is there an obvious bias or prejudice? Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • Are alternative points of view presented?
  • Does the author omit important facts or data that might disprove the claim?
  • Does the author use strong or emotional language?

Compare the two websites below.

You're writing a paper on social media privacy concerns. Which of the following websites would be best for this academic purpose?
Website One: 26 votes (11.87%)
Website Two: 75 votes (34.25%)
Bonus: Website Three: 118 votes (53.88%)
Total Votes: 219

Evaluating sources is difficult, but asking yourself some critical questions about each of your potential sources can really help. The following questions are just a starting point, but can help you quickly weed out less useful sources and then more closely examine what you have left. 

How is the source related to your broad topic?

How is the source related to your specific research question? 

  • Is it directly related? Does it provide context? 

Do you understand the source?

  • Can you summarize the main points and the evidence used as support? 
  • Do you need any background information to enhance your understanding?

Is the source appropriate for your project?

  • Does it conform to your assignment instructions?
  • How timely is it? How does this matter to your research question?
  • How authoritative is it? Can you determine anything about the author? The publication it's in?
  • What kinds of bias or authorial intent can you detect? Why was it written and published? Who is the intended audience? 

How might you use this source?

  • As a pathway to additional research, via the bibliography?
  • Direct evidence to support a claim? 
  • As corroborating evidence? To provide a dissenting viewpoint? To provide background or context for your reader?
  • Look at the quotations/statistics/facts you want to use. Are you accurately representing the author's intent, or simply cherry-picking to support your claims (warning: cherry-picking is not ethical).