Research Guide: Evaluating Sources

Use this guide to learn more about how to evaluate your sources

Why Evaluate Sources?

Why Evaluate Sources?

Your academic career and personal reputation depend on it!

  • If you use poor quality sources, your research paper could contain errors, overly-biased information or out-of-date facts
  • Instructors will check your sources to see if you have made good decisions about where you found your information
  • Knowing how to evaluate will help you make better decisions in other areas of your life, such as:
    finding accurate medical information, voting on issues during election time, presenting reliable information to your coworkers in a meeting...etc.

Evaluate ALL your 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? 
  • 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 its own references?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source?
  • 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 if the publisher/sponsor has 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

Video: Using the C.R.A.P. Test to Evaluate Websites

Source: "Using the C.R.A.P. Test to Evaluate Websites" by Portland State University Library, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

This video explains the C.R.A.P. test and then uses it to evaluate three websites on the topic of performance enhancing drugs in sports.

Can you pass the test?

Try it out!

What is your evaluation of these websites? Use the CRAAP Test to evaluate the three websites on clean energy below.