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CGU EDUC 369: Foundations: Evaluating Sources -- The CRAP Test

Introduction

When writing your papers, it is necessary to evaluate every source (book, article, website, etc...) to ensure it is reliable and authoritative. These are some of the questions you can ask yourself about each source to see if it is indeed authoritative and citable.

Evaluating Websites

Questions to ask as you evaluate sources

These steps are designed to help you determine if a source (journal article, book, website, etc.) is appropriate for use in your research paper.

First off: How do you intend to use this source?

  • Do you plan to cite this source as reputable information?
  • Do you plan to critique this source as an example of bias about your topic?
  • Etc. Your use will determine what answers you hope to get from the following questions.

Who is the author?

  • What are the author's credentials, educational background, area of expertise, etc.?
  • Have other scholars cited this author's work?
  • Did your professor or another expert recommend this author's work?

Why was the source written?

  • Is the information in it fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the author want people who read it to take some action? For instance, are you being persuaded to buy something or to vote for something?
  • Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Can you detect a bias?

How was it written?

  • Does the author tell how facts were gathered? Were they gathered from unbiased sources?
  • Is there any documentation offered, for instance, do you find a bibliography or other "credits"?

Why was it posted or published?

  • Who is hosting this website or publishing this book or journal?
  • What do you know about the company or group? Do they have a bias?

The CRAP test

The CRAP Test

Currency

  • When was this source written/updated?
  • Is it current enough for your project?

Reliability

 

  • Is there a bibliography? Footnotes/endnotes? If so, how many?
  • Are there links to other sources (if web-based)? If so, how many?
  • Bias: is the source an opinion piece? Editorial? Wiki? Identify the bias.
  • If there is bias, is it useful to your research?

Authority

  • Who authored this source? Is it a person or institution?
  • What are the author’s credentials? How do you know this author is an expert? Google the author.

Purpose

  • Why was this source published? Is it intended to persuade or inform?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Are there advertisements or other types of content attached to the source? If so, what purpose do they serve?

Scholarly versus Popular Sources