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UST 250: The City In Film: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources

Anyone can publish anything on the Internet. Just because you read it on Wikipedia does not mean it is true. Be careful when selecting sources, especially websites. Always EVALUATE your sources!

Look at the publication date, as well as the geographic location where the research was conducted.

Apply the CRAAP Test to evaluate your sources. The CRAAP Test Criteria are: Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose / Point-of-View.

Adapted from the CRAAP Test by Meriam Library, California State University at Chico

CURRENCY

The timeliness of the source.

What is the date of publication? Is there a newer edition?
Science, medicine, and technology demand the most recent information and developments.
History, literature, and other humanities may require older information. 
If you need historical perspective, then you will obviously use older sources.  
Did your professor set any limits on how old your sources may be?
As a general rule, sources published within the last 5 to 10 years are appropriate.

RELEVANCE

The uniqueness of the content and its importance for your needs.

Does the source help answer your research question?
What is the depth and breadth of the information presented?
Does the source provide the information you need?
Does it offer sufficient information related to your needs/purpose?
Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
Who is the intended audience - general public, professionals in the field, practitioners?
Is the information unique? 

AUTHORITY

The author's credibility and expertise on the topic. The publisher's reputation.

Who is the author? Is he or she an authority in the topic? What kind of reputation does he or she have?
Is the author a journalist, researcher, professional, politician?
Can you find any information on the author's credentials,education, or expertise?
Who is the publisher? Is it an academic press or popular press?
Is the author or publisher known to have a certain bias or viewpoint?
Is the author affiliated with an organization or institution? What do you know about the organization or institution?

Does the URL reveal anything about the author or organization?
 Examples: .com, .edu, .gov, .net, .org

ACCURACY

Reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content. 

Where does the information come from? (consider the author and publisher)
Are the original sources of information listed? Are there footnotes? Is there a works cited/reference page?
Can you verify any of the information in independent sources (such as a book), or from your own knowledge? 
Based upon your knowledge of the subject, does the information seem accurate?
Has the information been reviewed or refereed by subject professionals?
Does the language or tone seem biased?
Is the information easy to understand? 
Is it well written? Are there spelling, grammar, or other errors?
 

PURPOSE
POINT-OF VIEW

The presence of bias or prejudice.  The reason the source exists.

Is the content free of bias?
Are possible biases clearly stated/easily detected?
For periodicals -- Are the advertising and informational content easy to distinguish?
Is it an editorial?
Why was the source published - to inform, teach, educate, enlighten, sell, persuade?
What is the author's intent or message?
Is the purpose of the page clearly stated?  Does the content achieve its intended purpose?