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Evaluating Information - Twin Cities Library, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

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Evaluating Information

Is the information you found good enough to use in your research assignment? Use the C.R.A.P. test to help you evaluate and select high-quality sources. C.R.A.P. assesses the credibility, relevancy, accuracy, and purpose of a source.

Credibility

Evaluate a source's credibility by determining if the author and publisher have the knowledge and credentials needed to publish the information.
Ask yourself:

  • Who is the author?
  • What are his or her credentials?
  • Is the author affiliated with a reputable organization, such as a university?
  • Is the publisher or sponsor trustworthy?
  • If the information is from a website, what is the domain name of the website?

Information found on websites can be especially hard to evaluate. Pay close attention to the author, sponsor or publisher, and the website domain name.

Website Domain

Implications

.com, .biz

Commercial websites owned by corporations, businesses, or for-profit groups. Information is shared to advertise and persuade. You must decide if the particular website's information outweighs its commercial agenda.

.org

Websites typically run by non-profit organizations, but not always—there is no overseeing authority to ensure .org addresses go to non-profits. These sites can be owned by non-profit, religious, or lobbying groups, individuals, or companies. Information is often biased.

.edu

Higher education websites representing colleges and universities. Domain addresses are regulated now, but not in the infancy of the Internet.

.gov, .mil, .us

Websites regulated by U.S. government entities. These domain addresses are regulated.

.net

Network-related websites, often held by Internet service providers.

.uk, .ca., .mx

Websites that are housed/published outside the United States, identifiable by a two-letter country code.

Relevancy

Evaluate a source's relevancy by deciding if the information is suitable and unique enough for your needs.
Ask yourself:

  • Am I allowed to use this type of source in my assignment?
  • Does this information help me answer my research question?
  • Is this information too narrow, too broad, or just right?
  • Could I find better information in another source?

Accuracy

Evaluate a source's accuracy by making sure the information is correct and free of errors.
Ask yourself:

  • Is the information current enough for my topic?
  • Does the author provide references or sources for data or quotations?
  • Has the information gone through a strict review process, such as peer review?
  • Does the source show similar facts as other sources on the same topic?
  • Are there grammatical or typographical errors?

Purpose

Evaluate the purpose of information by examining the objectivity of the source.
Ask yourself:

  • Is the purpose of this source meant to teach?  Inform?  Entertain?  Persuade?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the author trying to sell something?
  • Does the information contain opinion?

Need more help?

Learn more by viewing this tutorial in the following format:   Interactive (Standard)  |  Interactive (iPad)  |  PDF