Critically Evaluating Information
In addition to the information retrieved from library databases and the Web sites listed in this guide, the free Internet can be a valuable source of information, too. However, as is the case with all resources you use, remember to think critically about the authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, and coverage of the information you find.
Evaluating Library Resources
Books and database articles should be evaluated to determine their credibility and relevance to your topic before selecting them for a research assignment. Use the CRAAP test below to help you evaluate whether a source is right for your research.
Use this CRAAP test worksheet to evaluate your sources.
- What is the publication date of the book or database article?
- How up-to-date are the citations in the bibliography?
- How current does the information need to be for your topic or your assignment?
- Does the information relate directly to your topic or answer your question?
- Who is the audience for the publication (scholarly or general)?
- Is the information primary or secondary in nature?
- Does it provide general background information or in-depth information on a specific topic? Which do you need?
Who created the information?
- What are the qualifications of the author, publisher, or organization responsible for the content of the resource?
- What are the author's education and/or experience?
- Look for the author's biography or information about the publisher or responsible organization either within the publication or use the sources below to find out more about authors, publishers, and organizations:
Information on Authors:
- Biography Index 1984 - present
- Gale Virtual Reference Library (Encyclopedia of World Biography)
Information on Publishers:
- Google - look for publisher's home page (check for focus, how long in business, circulation, etc)
- Worldcat.org - see how many/which kind of libraries have the publication.
Information on Organizations:
- Idealist.org - information about foundations
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Can you verify the information in another source?
- How extensive is the bibliography or list of cited references? Can you use these references to find more information on your topic?
- Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
- Have other scholars evaluated or cited the resource?
- Search the title of the book in OneSearch and refine your search on the lefthand side by choosing "book review" under the "format" on the left.
- Book Review Digest Plus, 1983- present
- Articles: Search the article title in Google Scholar to see how many times it has been cited and link to the articles that cited it.
- What is the purpose of the information? Is it meant to inform you, sell you something or persuade you?
- Does it present a fair and balanced view of an issue?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religous, or personal biases?
- Are opinions or propaganda easy to recognize?
- Are there advertisements that suggest the information might be biased toward selling a product rather than providing objective information?