Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

COM101/111: Introduction to Research & APA Citation

Why do you need to evaluate sources?

It's fairly safe to trust information you find through the library. The types of resources found through Seneca Libraries have been reviewed several times for quality and accuracy of information. However, you may still need to evaluate the library resource to make sure that it's relevant to your topic and matches the assignment requirements.

If you're using websites and other Internet sources in your assignment, it's important to evaluate these online sources for quality and credibility. How do you know what is trustworthy? One way to check for accuracy and reliability of information is to apply the CRAAP test.

Evaluating Sources Using the CRAAP Test

CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. Check out the following questions that you could ask yourself when evaluating different sources.

Criteria Things to consider
Currency
  • How recent is the information being provided in your source?
    (Note: You can check currency by looking at the source's copyright date, last updated date, or date posted/uploaded)
  • Do you need the most up-to-date information on your topic?
    (Note: For some topics where information gets updated often, such as those related to health or technology, it may be best to find and use current sources)
  • Does your assignment require you to use sources published within a specific time frame?
Relevance
  • Does the information answer your research question or help support your arguments?
  • Does the format of the source (e.g., website, journal article) match what you are allowed to use in your assignment?
Authority
  • Who wrote and published the source?
  • Is the author a subject expert and/or qualified to write about the topic?
    (Note: If you're unsure, you could try Googling their name to find out their qualifications)
  • Is the publisher reputable?
Accuracy
  • Does the author provide evidence to support their arguments?
  • Does the author list or provide links to their sources? Can you locate and access the sources used?
  • Has the source been reviewed for accuracy? 
    (e.g., a journal article has been peer-reviewed; a newspaper article has been fact-checked by an editorial team)
  • Is the author not using evidence and just writing from personal knowledge?
Purpose
  • Why was the source created? Was it created to inform, sell something, misinform the reader, promote a way of thinking?
  • Do you notice any bias in the information presented? Is the author doing their best to present an objective and impartial view of the topic?

Icons: schedule | puzzle | verified account | search | information by Freepik from flaticon.com

Example: Evaluating an online article using the CRAAP test

A student is researching the impacts of COVID-19 on college students for an essay. They are permitted to use credible sources from websites. After Googling their topic, they found an article online which could be a suitable source. Let's evaluate the article using the CRAAP test.

Open the article in a new window  

craap test activity

 

Currency The article was published in November 2020. Considering that COVID-19 is a new and evolving topic, this would pass the currency part of the CRAAP test.
Relevance The student is writing about the impacts of COVID-19 on college students. The article discusses one of impacts of the pandemic on college students which is stress. The article also discusses the effects of pandemic stress to students' mental health, and the preliminary results from the authors' research study. Considering that the source contains relevant information, this would pass the relevancy part of the CRAAP test.
Authority

The article was authored by academics from Carleton University's Department of Neuroscience. Given this information, it would be reasonable to say that they are qualified to write about the topic.

The article was published in the website The Conversation Canada, which publishes news and articles written by academics. On their Who We Are and Our Charter page, information is provided on the site's history and and publishing standards. Based on the information on these pages, it would be reasonable to say that they are a reputable website. 

Accuracy The authors referenced many sources in their articles to support their discussion. The majority of the references were to peer-reviewed research articles from academic journals. The links to the sources were also active and can be accessed. Based on this information, the article passes the accuracy part of the CRAAP test.
Purpose The main purpose of the article is to inform. No bias was observed and the authors' provided mostly facts and data about the topic. The articles passes the purpose part of the CRAAP test.

 

 Test Yourself