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Distance Education Guide: Evaluating Sources

Resources Guide for Distance Education Students

What About Wikipedia?

Wikipedia for Research

Wikipedia is an OK place to get some basic information about a topic or to find some keywords for use while searching a more credible source.

Most instructors don't want you to use wikipedia for college-level assignments.

Here's why:

Why Can't I Just Google

Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

Are They Credible?

Evaluating Sources

Sources are useless unless they help answer your research question and contain accurate information - they must be RELEVANT and CREDIBLE.

Use the CRAAP Test to see if your sources make the grade. Use the worksheet below the chart for a thorough analysis.

Key: * indicates criteria is for Web sources only

C - Currency: Timeliness

  • 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  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?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? *

R - Relevance: Meets Your Needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your research 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?

A - Authority: Source of 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 .edu .gov .org .net *

A - Accuracy: Reliability, Truthfulness

  • 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?

P - Purpose: Why it 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?

Use the worksheet below to do a thorough analysis.

CRAAP Acronym and information from Meriam Library, CSU-Chico