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Shapiro Library

ENG 123 - Composition

This guide will provide links to library resources, services, and databases that support online students' research for this course.

Evaluating Your Sources

One useful way to evaluate your sources is to use the C.R.A.A.P.O. test. C.R.A.A.P.O. is an acronym to help you remember the primary criteria for evaluation: Currency, Relevancy, Accuracy, Authority, Purpose, Objectivity.

Here are some quick tips to help you locate the information you need to evaluate the source under these criteria:

  • Currency: Is the content presented current enough for your project? Some research topics, such as those in the medical field, may require very current resources, but for others, such as historical research, older material may be well-suited. Look for the publication date of the article or resource. If it is a journal article found through the library's website, the publication date will be included in the journal publication information along with the volume and issue number.
  • How do I evaluate a source by its currency?

  • Relevancy: Does it answer your question or contribute to your research? Have you located the most relevant resources for your project? You may need to look past the first page of search results to find relevant resources. For articles and resources found through the library's website, look at the abstract, summary, table of contents, and subject terms to help you determine if the source is relevant to your research.
  • How do I evaluate a source by its relevancy?

  • Accuracy: Is the information provided correct? Peer-reviewed journal articles go through an additional vetting process by experts in the field before they are published, but not all journal articles are subject to this additional layer of verification. Credible resources usually give references for facts and statements made within them. For articles and resources found through the library's website, look at the bibliography or reference list (if available). You can also find out more about the publisher or journal through their official website or through information provided within the source.
  • How do I evaluate a source by its accuracy?

  • Authority: Does the author have expertise on the topic about which he/she is writing? You will need to find some basic information about the author in order to determine their level of authority with your topic. Depending on the type of resource you are using (newspaper article, website, journal article, etc), you may have the best luck finding information about the author through a general internet search. For more tips, check out our FAQ: How can I find information about an author?
  • How do I evaluate a source by its authority?

  • Purpose or Objectivity: Is there bias or a slant given to the information provided? Is it fact-based or opinion-based? Look through the full text of the source for facts, opinions, statistics, advertisements, and other clues. Look up the author and the publisher and see what their affiliations are, and check out other material published by that author or publisher.
  • How do I evaluate a source by its purpose or objectivity?

For a full description of each criteria and additional tips for evaluating websites, check out our Evaluating Sources research guide.

Credible Sources

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines the word credible as "offering reasonable grounds for being believed." A credible source, then, is one that you can reasonably believe to be true.

Evaluating sources before you use them is important, both in research projects for college classes and in every day life. Understanding who created the information, why it was created, if it is biased, or if you can trust it, is vital whenever you need information. As you evaluate your sources, you are teaching yourself how to think critically about information, and this is a skill that will serve you throughout your lifetime.

Source: Credible. (n.d.).  In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from