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InfoSkills3: Evaluating Resources

Checklist for quality

At all times, you need to make sure you are finding good quality sources

The  CRAAP test is a useful checklist for evaluating sources using the following criteria:

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

Each criteria has a number of related questions - you can see these by clicking on the different tabs above. Use these as a guide to help you evaluate your sources.

This video gives a short introduction to using the CRAAP test to evaluate sources.

undefinedNew or old?

  • How old is the information?
  • Can you see when it was written and/or updated or revised?
  • Is there a chance it is no longer up to date?

For some subjects, the most recent, up to date information is essential. In others, historical information may be important too. Check your subject outline or with your lecturer to see how recent your assignment sources need to be.

undefinedIs the information what you really need?

  • How does it relate to your topic? It may mention the subject you are researching, but is it actually about that topic?
  • Is the information at the right level?
  • Is the information too general or simplified?
     

undefinedWho wrote it?

  • Who is the author or creator? This may be either a person's name or sometimes the name of an organization.
  • Are the authors recognized experts on the topic?
  • Are the author's credentials and contact details included?

 

undefinedIs the information reliable and correct?

  • Does the information fit with what you already know about the topic?
  • Does the information agree with other credible sources?
  • Is there a reference list?
  • Does the information seem too good to be true?

undefinedWhy does this information exist?

  • Who is the audience?
  • Is the information meant to inform, educate, persuade, sell something?
  • Is it fact or opinion?
  • Does the information present a balanced or a biased point of view?

 

Popular vs scholarly

Are you using the right sources for the job?

It is important to use scholarly sources for your assignments. This means sources that have been written and reviewed by experts in the subject you are learning about.

Using scholarly sources isn’t a completely failsafe way of ensuring accuracy and reliability. However, given the steps that must be followed to publish scholarly sources they are less likely to have mistakes or be particularly biased to a certain point of view. In other words, scholarly sources should be more accurate and balanced.

Ultimately it is up to you to think critically about the information you find and to decide on the appropriateness and relevance of each source.

About bias

Bias is when an author – individual or organisation -  may have a specific point of view or agenda to convey and does not present a balanced viewpoint or neutral perspective.

It could be argued that it is impossible to be totally value-neutral (unbiased). As such, it is important to be able to recognise bias and perspective.

You may need to look for sources with differing bias to get an overall  balanced picture rather than just relying on one particular source of information.

Toolkit Home | Defining Your Topic | Searching for Resources | Evaluating Resources | Referencing

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