ENGL 127 Research Writing: Social Sciences (Schaefer)

This research guide is for students in Amanda Schaefer's English 127: Focus on Family & Home

Assess your Information Sources

For all sources of information you find - and particularly those you find online:

  • VERIFY claims in news and other sources. We call this "lateral reading."
  • Check CREDENTIALS to determine if the author, editor, and/or publisher has some expertise in the area or as a professional journalist.
  • Read MISSION STATEMENTS to learn what the agendas and beliefs are of an organization. 
  • RESEARCH the source itself. See what the Wikipedia article says about the source.
  • AND ASSESS if this is a good source for your purposes!

Evaluate Your Info Sources

Do Your Sources Pass the CRAAP Test?

Evaluation is about asking the right questions and using the C.R.A.A.P test of evaluation is just one way to review and assess the quality of your sources.  Do your sources pass the CRAAP test? If not, find a better source!

Currency: The timeliness of the information
  • How recent is the information? Can you find a date of publication?
  • Is the currency of information important for your particular topic?
  • Does information about your topic change rapidly or frequently?
  • Is older, historical information important for your topic?
  • If source is a website, are the links functional?
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question? 
  • Is the source popular or scholarly?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
Authority: The source of the information
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor? 
  • What are the author's qualifications, credentials, organizational/educational affiliations, and lived experiences? 
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address? 
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content
  • Where does the information come from?  Does the source list references or cite claims?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Step outside that source. Can you verify claims in other sources?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists
  • What is the information being published? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade? 
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Can you determine the point of view of the source?
  • Do a little research into the author or publication's political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases.
  • For web sources, what is the domain? (.edu, .gov, .com, .org, .net)?
  • For web sources, who are the sponsors of the site?  Are there advertisements? Do they affect or color the information being presented?

Download a copy of the C.R.A.A.P. Test below

Source evaluation checklist

You can use this source checklist to evaluate the relevance and authority of your sources.

Evaluate your own Biases

Confirmation Bias

We all have conscious and unconscious biases that lead us to favor information we agree and disfavor information that counters our beliefs. 

Video 1 tells us what confirmation bias is and Video 2 offers steps we can take to counter our own biases. 

Source: " 5 Ways to Beat Confirmation Bias " by Causes , is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.