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Research Process

Introduction to Evaluating Sources step

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating your sources is a critical part of the research process. It's important to make sure the sources you use are reliable and credible.  

Peer-Review, Scholarly, Popular

Peer-Review, Scholarly, and Popular


Peer-Review (Refereed): The process an article may go through prior to being published. Peer-review involves multiple experts in a particular field reading an article, making comments and suggestions, and sending back to the author for revision. Not all articles are peer-reviewed.

Scholarly: An article whose intended audience is experts in their field and is written by experts. While most scholarly publications are peer-reviewed, they are not always. However, if an article is peer-reviewed, it is typically scholarly.

Popular: Articles that are published without going through the peer-review process. They are typically written for the general public. Examples of resources that offer popular articles include The New York Times, Time, and People. Popular articles may be edited, but this is not the same as peer-review.

Evaluating Information: The CRAAP Method

Evaluating Information: The CRAAP Method


Finding information isn't hard. Finding good information is a different story. How can you tell the good from the bad? Evaluate using the CRAAP Method.

Remember, by including a resource in your research, you are telling your professor you think this is good, valid information. Be sure to use the CRAAP test on everything you come across.

Currency
When was this information created? Is it too old to still be good? If on the internet, do links still work? 

Consider how time has impacted the following resources:

  • An article on cancer treatments written in 1960
  • A textbook on geometry written in 1970
  • A book on computers written in 1995
  • A critical analysis of Jane Austen's Persuasion written in 1982

Relevance

Does this information answer your research questions? Have you looked at multiple sources? Is it written at an appropriate level?

Consider how relevant the following resources may or may not be for college level research:

  • a juvenile biography on Rosa Parks
  • the first 5 results of your Google search
  • the first 5 results of your search in a library database

Authority

Who created this information? Who helped this information get published? Is the author qualified to speak about this topic? What organizations are they affiliated with that might make them more credible in the field? Could you get in touch with the author if you wanted to? If on the internet, what is the domain of the URL and what does that tell us about the author?

Consider the importance of authorship for the following resources:

  • a tweet about natural disaster preparedness from FEMA
  • a peer-reviewed article on climate change from a leading researcher in the field
  • journalism from NYtimes.com

Accuracy

Is this information correct? Has it been peer-reviewed or at least edited? Does the author credit their sources? Are there any grammar or formatting errors?

Consider what these points might mean for a resource's accuracy:

  • citation used throughout the resource
  • repeated misspellings
  • facts that differ from what other sources have said

Purpose

Why did someone create this information? Are they trying to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade you and are they making their intentions clear? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases? Is it fact, opinion, or propaganda?

Consider the purpose of the following resources:

  • an article written by Toyota about how fuel efficient a Camry is
  • an article written by the NRA on gun control
  • an article written by the ACLU on immigration
  • a study funded by Coca-Cola on the connection between soft drinks and obesity

The CRAAP Method was developed by Meriam Library at California State University.

 

Videos for learning more

Want to know more?


Check out these videos to explore this topic further!

Evaluating Information

Peer Review

Additional sources

Credit for Page

This page was created by Magen Nosworthy (Fall 2018 ENGL 489)