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Finding and evaluating information

Finding and evaluating information

Evaluating sources

An important part of your research is identifying the key sources on your topic. You have to choose which ones are reliable and most relevant to answering the question of your essay or dissertation, and to support your arguments. 

Use the CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, Purpose) test to evaluate the sources you have located, and ask yourself the following questions: 

Currency - The timeliness of the information

  • When was the source published or posted? Has it been updated or revised since?

  • Does your topic require current information? Or will older sources work just as well? 

Relevance - The importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the source relate to your topic? Does it answer your question?

  • Is the information at the appropriate level? Who is the intended audience? 

  • Are you comfortable citing this?

Accuracy - The reliability of the content

  • Where does it come from? Is it reliable? Is it supported by evidence? 

  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed? 

  • Does the tone seem biased / unbiased? 

Authority - The source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher of the source?

  • What are their credentials? Are they qualified to write on the topic? 

  • Is the source trustworthy? Is there contact information? Email address? Publisher? 

  • If it is a website, what is the source? For example: government (.gov), university (.ac), organisation (.org)? 

Purpose - The reason for the information

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, or teach, or sell, or promote? 

  • Is it fact, opinion or propaganda?

  • Does the information appear objective and impartial?

A short video tutorial on evaluating journal articles