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RN-BSN Library Guide

Use this Library Research Guide to help locate evidence-based resources including articles, information on research appraisal, statistics, evidence translation, clinical practice tools, informatics and professional resources.

Why Do We Evaluate?

Evaluating sources before you use them in a paper, project, or even in everyday life for your work or your own information is very important. Understanding who created the information, why, if it is biased, or if you can trust it is vital whenever you need information. The same applies when researching for school, work, or even buying a car. Teaching your brain how to think critically about information is a skill that you will need forever. Read on to learn more!

Pre-Evaluation: The Dirty W's

"The Dirty W's" is a quick way to pre-evaluate a source to determine if it is worth evaluating more deeply or for use in everyday life as a quick evaluation method. NOTE: This is NOT a replacement for a more in-depth evaluation of websites and internet sources used for academic research and college papers.

Whenever you find a source, ask yourself WhoWhen, and Why

Pre-Evaluation: The Dirty W's
"W" What "W" Means Questions To Ask What to Look For
Who Author / Creator
  • Who wrote the information?
  • Can you find an author's name?
  • Can you find information about the author to determine if they are qualified to post this information?
  • Can you find an organization's name?
  • Can you find information about the organization to determine if they are qualified to post this information?
  • Can you find contact information?
  • Author / Creator / Publisher
  • About Us
  • Contact Us
When Date of Publication, Creation, or Last Update
  • When was it published or last updated?
  • Can you find the date?
  • How relevant is the date to the information on the site?
  • Date
  • Updated / Last Updated
  • Published
Why Purpose / Reason
  • Why is the site there?
  • Can you find information about the author or organization to determine reason?
  • Is the author or organization affiliated with a cause that could bias the information on the site?
  • Is that relevant to your information need?
  • Are there ads that could affect what is published on the site and create bias?
  • Is the site community edited, meaning the information you want to use could change from day to day?
  • Is the site trying to sell something? Is it a vendor site or is it a site with articles and advertisements?
  • Mission Statement
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Advertising & Sponsorship Policy
  • Advertisements
  • Balance of Article Content vs Advertising Space

What Can The Dirty W's Be Used For?

You can use the Dirty W's (3 W's) as a quick pre-evaluation method to determine if sources are appropriate for your research. You can also use this method in your everyday life to become a responsible and effective consumer, producer, and transmitter of information.


  • Allows you can more quickly move on to better resources
  • Allows to determine if the source is worth evaluating more deeply for your research
  • Will increase the quality of your information consumption


  • The Dirty W's is not enough information/evaluation to defend a source to use in academic research.

More Information

For more information, check out these FAQs:

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.

C.R.A.A.P.O Source Evaluation Rubric
  ONE (1) TWO (2) THREE (3) FOUR (4) SCORE

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*.



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.



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



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*



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.



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.