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Evaluating sources of information

Library resources to help you evaluate information for your research and assignments.

Evaluating information

Scrabble tiles.

When carrying out research and locating information and evidence for your assignments, an important part of the process is evaluating the information you find.  The ability to evaluate and critique a variety of sources is not only an important element in achieving good marks for your assignments, it also forms part of Manchester Met's graduate outcomes and is an important transferable skill valued by employers.

This guide provides tips in evaluating sources of information for validity and credibility, and also identifies academic sources and explains why you should use such scholarly material in your assignments.

CRAAP test

The acronym CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.  These evaluation criteria are explained in more detail on this guide and in the video below.

Use the CRAAP test as a guide to evaluate sources of information in the context of your assignment and your information need, as this may determine if some criteria may take priority over others.

Be aware that it may also be useful to engage with sources that do not pass the CRAAP test as long as you critically evaluate the information.  It is important that you locate and understand multiple perspectives on a topic, keep an open mind and acknowledge that new research can potentially dispute previously widely held views.

The CRAAP test was created by Sarah Blakeslee of the Chico's Meriam Library at the University of California

Currency - this refers to the timeliness of the information.

Consider the following:

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

Relevance - this refers to the importance of the information in relation to your assessment

Consider the following:

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?

Authority - this refers to the expertise of the source including the author/creator/organisation.

Consider the following:

  • Who is the author / publisher / source / sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational 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 - this refers to the reliability, correctness and truthfulness of the information.

Consider the following:

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose - this refers to why the information exist.

Consider the following:

  • 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?

Evaluating sources using the CRAAP test video

Academic sources

Your tutor will ask you to use academic sources for your assignments, which includes scholarly books and journal articles. 

Although you should still evaluate these sources of information in terms of relevancy and currency and assess the appropriateness of the content for purposes of your academic work, there is less need to evaluate academic sources in terms of quality.

The following videos provide an overview of these types of academic sources.