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ENGL 1301 NE: Evaluate Sources

This page describes how to evaluate research resources

CRAP Test

The quality of your final research project is related to the quality of the sources you use. As one professor put it, "garbage in, garbage out."  Applying the CRAP Test is one way to evaluate quality and value of a source (book, article, etc.) before you start writing.

Ask yourself these questions to determine if the source is one you should use...

Currency

  • How recent is the information?
  • Can you locate a date when the resource was written/created/updated?
  • Based on your topic, is this current enough?
  • Why might the date matter for your topic?

Reliability

  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is the content primarily opinion?
  • Is the information balanced or biased?
  • Does the author provide citations and references for quotations and data?

Authority

  • Can you determine who the author/creator is?
  • What are their credentials (education, affiliation, experience, etc.)?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the work?
  • Is this publisher reputable?

Purpose/Point of View

  • What is the intent of the article (to persuade you, to sell something, etc.)
  • For web sources: what is the domain (.edu, .com, etc.)? How might that influence the purpose/point of view?
  • Are there ads on the Web site or in the resource? How do they relate to the topic being covered (e.g., an ad for ammunition next to an article about firearm legislation)?
  • Is the author presenting fact or opinion?