Skip to Main Content

Creative Writing

Designed for creative writing students, this guide takes you through the Library’s resources to improve your research.
Evaluating Sources

When working on an academic paper, what considerations are most important when selecting and evaluating sources, regardless of the specific field of study?

Here are 4 considerations when assessing whether or not a source is right for use in assignments.

  • Author
    • Who wrote it and what are their credentials? What larger organization are they affiliated with? If an author is search in Google, what is found? Is this article in their area of expertise? Can the author or organization be contacted?
  • Bias:
    • Can the angle/slant/bias in the article or on an affiliated web site be identified? What is the purpose of the study or content—to prove something to a particular group? Can the claims be corroborated with at least two other sources?
  • Content
    • Is the source accurate? Are there basic mistakes in grammar, dead links, or spelling? When was it published, posted, or last updated? Does it contain claims that contradict things known to be true or even other claims within the article itself?
  • Support
    • Does the content have citations or sources? Can the source(s) be verified? Do the sources' arguments support the claims of the topic being researched?
CRAAP Method for Evaluating Sources

CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. Use the CRAAP Test to evaluate your sources. It was created by Sarah Blakeslee, of the University of California at Chico's Meriam Library to help students easily remember how to evaluate sources when conducting research.

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  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?   

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a 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 given?
  • 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 (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government)
      • .org (nonprofit organization), or
      • .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical 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?

If you need help working through the CRAAP Test, here is a printable document created by the Benedictine University Library to help you become a pro.

Evaluating Sources Checklist

Need help figuring out if a source is reliable? This free, printable worksheet guides you through the process, step-by-step. Perfect for beginners and anyone who wants to sharpen their research skills! The resource comes from the Benedictine University Library.

PROVEN Method for Evaluating Sources

Purpose: How and why the source was created.

  • Why does this information exist—to educate, inform, persuade, sell, entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it? Is the source deliberately trying to misinform?
  • Why was this information published in this particular type of source (book, article, website, blog, etc.)?
  • Who is the intended audience—the general public, students, experts?

Relevance: The value of the source for your needs.

  • Is the type of source appropriate for how you plan to use it and for your assignment’s requirements?
  • How useful is the information in this source, compared to other sources? Does it answer your question or support your argument? Does it add something new and important to your knowledge of the topic?
  • How detailed is the information? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?

Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information

  • Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally? Do they use strong, emotional, manipulative, or offensive language?
  • Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors have a particular political, ideological, cultural, or religious point of view? Do they acknowledge this point of view, or try to disguise it?
  • Does the source present fact or opinion? Is it biased? Does it offer multiple points of view and critique other perspectives respectfully? Does it leave out, or make fun of, important facts or perspectives?

Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information.

  • Do the authors support their information with factual evidence? Do they cite or link to other sources? Can you verify the credibility of those sources? Can you find the original source of the information?
  • What do experts say about the topic? Can you verify the information in other credible sources?
  • Does the source contradict itself, include false statements, or misrepresent other sources?
  • Are there errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar?

Expertise: The authority of the authors and the source.

  • What makes the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic? Do they have related education, or personal or professional experience? Are they affiliated with an educational institution or respected organization? Is their expertise acknowledged by other authorities on the topic? Do they provide an important alternative perspective? Do other sources cite this source?
  • Has the source been reviewed by an editor or through peer review?
  • Does the source provide contact information for the authors, publishers, and/or sponsors?

Newness: The age of the information.

  • Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as science, technology, or current events), or could information found in older sources still be useful and valid?
  • When was the information in the source first published or posted? Are the references/links up to date?
  • Are newer sources available that would add important information to your understanding of the topic?

P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation by Ellen Carey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.