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What is a credible source? Evaluating Sources

Try Rate My Source to help you evaluate if the resource you are considering is appropriate for your assignment

Evaluating the authority, usefulness, and reliability of the information you find is a crucial step in the process of library research. The questions you ask about books, periodical articles, multimedia titles, or Web pages are similar whether you're looking at a citation to the item, a physical item in hand, or an electronic version.Use the CRAAP Test to help you evaluate the information you find for:

Currency - The timeliness of the information.

Relevance - The importance of the information for your needs

Authority - The source of the information

Accuracy - The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

Purpose - The reason the information exists.


CURRENCY: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published? Has the information recently been revised or updated?
  • Do you need current or historical information? Will the older information be acceptable?

RELEVANCE: The suitability and appropriateness of the information.

  • Does the information directly relate to your topic?
  • Is the level and depth of the information appropriate?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Did you compare a variety of sources to determine which one works best?

AUTHORITY: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is the author affiliated with a University or a reputable organization?
  • What does the URL (web address) indicate about the author or source?
  • What is the site's domain? 

    • The following list shows several sites defined by their domain.

      • .gc.ca Canadian government website  
      • .ca Canadian country code
      • .gov American government website  
      •  .org organizations, nonprofits website
      • .net - organizations related to the Internet itself
      • .edu American college/university website     
      • .com commercial, for profit website

      Generally speaking, .edu, .gov or .org domains are more reliable as research sources than .com.

 

  

ACCURACY: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.

  • Is the information supported by evidence or sources that can be verified?
  • Is there a bibliography / references list?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Is the information free of spelling mistakes, poor grammar, and typos?

PURPOSE: The purpose and objectivity of the information should be clear.

  • Is the information intended to teach, sell, entertain, inform, or persuade?
  • Is it factual, propaganda, or an opinion?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • Do the authors or sponsors make their intentions clear?