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Evaluating Information Sources: 3. Evaluation criteria

Online tutorial developed to help build skills in evaluating the quality of information sources

 

 

This page looks at some of the key criteria that you can use to evaluate the academic quality of information sources and includes an activity which allows you to try and apply the criteria in practice.

Evaluation criteria: using the CRAAP test

 

There are a number of different criteria and models that you can use to evaluate information sources. This tutorial will focus on the CRAAP test, one such model that you can apply. The CRAAP test consists of five main criteria that you can use to judge the academic quality of information:

Currency

Relevancy          

Authority

Accuracy

Purpose

 

Each criteria encourages you to ask a series of questions of your sources to help you determine if they should play a role in informing your work. This process does not need to be taxing or time consuming; indeed many of these checks can be completed without having to read the article or source you find in full.

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the web links functional?

Relevancy: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate academic level?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: the source of the information 

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organisational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: the reliability and correctness of the content

  • Is the information supported by evidence (e.g. references, research data)?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
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Activity: applying evaluation criteria

This activity provides an opportunity for you to put the CRAAP test into practice.

Bearing in mind the previous research topic: 

The effects of regular coffee consumption on long-term health in adults. 

Take a look at the source below and consider some of the key questions from the CRAAP test when answering the questions in the box on the right.

 

SourceCoffee A–Z: A Guide to the History, Types, Benefits, and Risks of the Buzzy Drink​

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