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Research Paper Help: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources: Links

After completing your research, select which items to use in your paper. Evaluate the information based on its usefulness. Bear in mind that not all information is accurate, credible or timely.

Information found in your library and in library databases has been selected by library staff and other academic professionals, and usually comes from reliable sources. Still, it should be evaluated carefully. World Wide Web information varies from useful to simply wrong.

Evaluate this information using criteria like the CRAAP Test.

CRAAP Test

  • Reliable sources contain current, up-to-date information.  Check to see when your source was published (book/article) or last updated (website/online database).
  • Are the sources current enough for your research?  (Historical research may rely on older, primary sources.)
  • For online research, make sure all web links are functional.
  • Does the information relate to your topic? 
  • Is it written at the appropriate level for your audience?  An informal speech on a current event given for fellow students will not require information as advanced as a research paper in your college major.
  • Have you considered several sources before selecting one above the others?

  • Is the source of your information reliable (From an academic journal or government agency?)   Is it professional and trustworthy?
  • Is the author respected in his/her field, qualified to write about the subject?  For online research, is the website sponsored by a respected organization, such as The American Civil Liberties Union?
  • Is there contact information, like a publisher or email address?
  • Is the information correct, coming from a reliable source?  Has the information been reviewed by professionals in the field?
  • Does evidence support the information?
  • Is the language used in the source objective and free of emotion? 
  • Are there grammatical errors or typos?
  • What is the purpose of the information?  Is it meant to inform, persuade, entertain or sell?
  • Does the author make his intention clear?
  • Is the information impartial and factual?  Or, does it express religious, political or cultural biases?
  • Is the information factual or propaganda?
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Evaluating Websites: Video

From San Jose State University Library