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Research help

This guide will help you at all stages of the research process, from choosing a topic to citing your sources.

Evaluate information using the CRAP Test

Evaluating information is especially important when completing academic research assignments in college because you will be evaluated on the quality of sources you use. The CRAP Test is a helpful tool to use when deciding if a source is high-quality and credible. CRAP stands for currency, reliability, authority and purpose. These are the four areas you'll consider when evaluating a source.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you go through the evaluation process.

Currency

  • How recent is the information?
  • How recently has the item been updated?
  • Is the information current enough for your topic?

Reliability

  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is is balanced?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
  • Is the information accurate and well-edited?

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author?
  • What are his/her credentials? Can you find any information about the author's background?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor?
  • Are they reputable? What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?

Purpose/Point of View

  • Is the information fact or opinion? Does the author list sources or cite references?
  • Is the information biased? Do the author or publisher seem to be pushing an agenda or particular side?
  • Is the author/publisher trying to sell you something? Are there advertisements? If so, are they clearly stated?
     
CRAP Test adapted from Beestrum, M., & Orenic, K. (2008). The CRAP test. Available from http://commons.emich.edu
Abe adapted from public domain photo Abraham Lincoln [image]. (1863). Available from https://upload.wikimedia.org/

There are many ways to evaluate information sources. Some of our other favorites are listed below.