Research – Evaluating and Citing your Sources

Evaluating and Citing your Sources

When you search for information, you might find plenty… but is it accurate and reliable? You will have to determine this for yourself, and the CRAAP Test can help. The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help determine if the information you find is good quality. Your information source may not meet every criterion on this list; different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need. So why guess? Is your source giving you truly credible and useful information, or just a lot of…?!

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or too out-of-date for my topic?
  • Are all the links functional or are there dead links?*
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to my topic or answer my question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too simple or advanced) for my needs?
  • Did I look at a variety of sources before deciding to use this one?
  • Would I be comfortable using this source for my college research paper?
Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net*
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed by anyone else?
  • Can I verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased? Or is it free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, typographical, or other errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
*criteria specifically for evaluating Web site information***adapted from:  Evaluating information – Applying the CRAAP test, 10/24/2007. Reference & Instruction, Meriam Library ReSEARCH Station, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico, CA. 17 Mar 2008. <>   Prepared for University Library lobby display, Evaluating information from the World Wide Web, March 2008. ***


                                                Citing your sources:

As you compile your sources, make sure you have full bibliographic information on each one .  This includes: 

1)  Book:  Author(s), Title, Place of publication, Publisher, copyright date, and pages for your quotes

2) Journal:  Author(s), Article title, Journal title, Volume, Issue, Date, Year and Pages

There are several style manuals that you can use, but you will need to consult your professor and to the appropriate one for your discipline.  The library has the most used ones at the Reference Desk (APA Handbook, MLA Handbook, Turabian Manual for Writers, Chicago Manual of Style, and the ACS Style Guide). 

There are several university websites that have online examples of how to cite your sources.  Below are a few good ones:

Purdue Online Writing Lab “OWL”

Northwest Missouri State University

Univ. of Wisconsin – Madison Writing Center

One thing to note is that when you are doing research in the library’s online databases, there may be a link on “how to cite your article”.  This will give you an example for a specific style manual, BUT you should always verify the source in your style manual, as sometimes the example is wrong.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s