Q. How can I tell if a source is good?

Answer

Good is a relative term ... what is sufficient, acceptable, relevant, or worthy changes with each information need.  However, there are some general evaluation criteria that you can apply to a source to see whether it meets your information needs.  

These criteria form a checklist known as the CRAAP test: 

Currency 

  • Do I need current or historical information?  Is this the most updated source I can find? Or is this source from the proper time frame to serve as a historical resource? 
  • Has this information been revised or changed since it was published?
  • Bottom line: Does this offer appropriately current or historical information?

Relevance 

  • Does this information help me accomplish the purpose of my paper/work?
  • Does this easily relate to my topic?
  • Does this information strengthen my argument or statements?
  • Bottom line: Is this a source that adds value to my work? Is it worth including?

Authority 

  • Who is the author? What expertise do they have -- knowledge, education, experience?  
  • Who is the publisher? Why have they made this information available?
  • Does the author or published have any motivation or bias for their work?
  • Bottom line:  Can you trust this author to know what they're talking about?  Is this person the best source that you can find on this topic?

Accuracy 

  • Is this information correct? Reliable?
  • Can this information be verified in other sources?
  • What methods did they use to collect this information/data? How did they draw their conclusions?
  • Do they list their sources? Are these sources academic/scholarly/credible?
  • Bottom line: Can you trust that this information is true?

Purpose

  • Why was this written? Why does this information exist? Why was it made public? 
  • What was the writer's purpose? The publisher's purpose?
  • Are there any hints of bias? Is the author up front about this bias?
  • Is this information trying to persuade or influence you?
  • Bottom line:  Understanding the purpose of the source can ensure that you do not fall prey to biased or one-sided information.
  • Last Updated Jul 06, 2017
  • Views 16
  • Answered By Lisa Crumit-Hancock

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