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Evaluating Sources

This guide will provide you with information that you can use to critically evaluate sources including websites, articles and reports, books and ebooks, etc.

Evaluation Tools & Rubric

Source Evaluation Rubric

This rubric can help you determine if a source is a "good" source; one that is reliable to use in your research or paper. It can help you weed out "bad" sources and defend your "good" sources to your instructor.

How to use this Rubric:

  1. Enter information about the source at the top of the page, i.e. title, url, author, dates
  2. For each line, starting with Currency, read each box from left to right and choose the one that matches your source the best
  3. Enter the column number, 1-4 that corresponds to the box that matches your source the best in the right hand column
  4. Once every line has a number, tally the numbers in the right hand column and write the score at the bottom of the page

The score you tally is out of 24 total points. You must determine what is the lowest score you will accept.

An acceptable score for a source to be used in a research paper for college is between 20 to 24.

  ONE (1) TWO (2) THREE (3) FOUR (4) SCORE
Currency No publish date listed -- or No revisions in the last eighteen months*. No updates in the past year*. Updated in the last six months*. Publish date included -- or Updated in the last three months*.  
Relevancy Content is unrelated to your topic -- and / or level is too simple / too advanced. Content is either related and incorrect level – Or unrelated and correct level. Content is related -- And at correct level -- But you are not comfortable using the source in your research. Content is related -- And at correct level – And you are comfortable using the source in your research.  
Authority No author is listed -- and No contact info provided. No author is listed – but includes contact information. Author is listed without credentials -- You are unsure if the author is the creator of the material. Author is listed with credentials -- Is the originator of the information-- Contact information provided  
Accuracy Information is not verifiable -- Resources not documented. Some resources are not documented -- some links do not work*. Most resources are documented -- links work*. Well organized source -- Resources documented -- links work*.  
Purpose A lot of advertising makes the content unclear. Purpose is to sell, entertain, or persuade -- Source contains a lot of advertising and bias. Purpose is to inform and teach-- Contains some advertising -- Minimal bias. Purpose is to inform and teach -- Contains little advertising -- Bias free.  
Objectivity It is unclear what institution published and support the source. It is unclear if author has any connection with a larger institution -- Source is .com, .org, or other generic domain type* Source is supported by larger institution -- But some bias is apparent. It is clear the source was published and supported by a reputable institution -- Bias free.  
        TOTAL SCORE:
(of possible 24)
 

The C.R.A.A.P. Test was created by Sarah Blakeslee (University of California at Chico, Meriam Library). With her permission, this content was based off her original text with some modification.

Term Definitions

Currency
  • When was the information created or last updated?
  • Date should be prominently displayed.
  • For electronic sources -- are links functional on site?*
Relevancy
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (not too simple/not too advanced)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research project?
Authority
  • Who is the author?
  • Is the author the original creator of the information?
  • Are the author's occupation, education, or other credentials listed?
  • Who are the author’s organizational affiliations?
  • For websites -- what does the URL reveal about the author or source, i.e. .com, .org, .edu, .gov?*
Accuracy
  • Is the information verifiable?
  • Is it accurate?
  • Are their resources documented?
  • What does this source offer compared to other resources?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?
  • Is the language or tone unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Can you verify the information in another source?
  • Is the information crowd sourced or vulnerable to changes by other authors, i.e. Wikipedia or other public wiki?*
Purpose
  • What appears to be the purpose of the information -- to inform, teach, sell, entertain, public services, or persuade?
  • Is the information biased?
  • Are there any advertisements?
  • Why is the author/creator providing this information?
Objectivity
  • What institution (company, organization, government, university, etc.) supports this information?
  • Does the institution appear to exercise quality control over the information appearing under its name?
  • Does the author's affiliation with this particular institution appear to bias the information?
  • Is there advertising and does it affect the content and message of the source?

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