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Communication: Evaluating Sources

Tips

What is and what isn't common knowledge will depend on your intended audience. A paper written for a faculty member at ABAC can assume that the reader has knowledge about the college that would be considered common by students and employees of the school. However, the same paper written for a distance learning program at Florida State University would need to provide more citations about ABAC, since they would not have the same familiarity with the college. Always take into account who your audience is when deciding whether or not to cite.

Questions about the quality of a source? Does it pass some but not all of the CRAAP test? If you're really not sure whether or not a source is credible, ask a librarian! Contact information for the Instructional Services Librarian can be found on the first page of this guide.

CRAAP Test

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
  •      examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), 
                   .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?