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Evaluating Sources

by Meghan Kowalski on 2020-11-10T09:00:00-05:00 | Comments

Graphic of a checkmark with text - "Evaluate Your Sources"Once you have all your sources, it's important to evaluate them. Why should you evaluate your sources? Not everything is good or appropriate for your needs.

For every source you have, you should ask yourself, "Is it CRAAP?" ​

​CRAAP is a method we use for evaluating resources. You can use this method to evaluate all of your sources whether you found them through the library, Google, or anywhere else.​

  • ​Is the source current? How timely is the information? Do you need historical research or more current research? For example, if you're doing scientific research, you will want the most recent and up to date information. If you're taking a look at the trends of vampire literature through history, you'll want a mix of historical and more current information.​
  • Is it relevant? Just because it was in your search results doesn't mean it's relevant to your particular assignment. It's also important to look at the intended audience. You don't want to use an article written for elementary school students in your college paper. ​
  • Is it accurate? Is the information in the source reliable, truthful, and correct? Are there spelling or grammar errors? Can you verify the claims in another source?  Signs of any errors should make you think twice about using that source.​
  • Is it authoritative? Who wrote the piece? Do they have expertise or experience in the area? Are they biased or trying to get you to buy something? What are the privileges of the author? Who wrote the information is just as important as what they're saying. The reason you shouldn't use Wikipedia is because anyone can update it. Also, lived experience can sometimes be just as good as an academic credential. It's always important to consider balancing perspectives to get the whole story.​
  • What is the purpose of the information? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases? Is the information designed to teach, inform, sell, persuade, or entertain? Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda? All information is shared for a reason, you need to look at those reasons to help you determine if they fit with your research need.

Asking these questions can help you decide if a source is worth using in your assignment. Not quite sure if a source you have suits your need, reach out to a librarian at ask@udc.libanswers.com.


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