Skip to main content

The I-LEARN Model: Evaluate sources

Guide which describes and provides example of a learning model to support student critical thinking and research skills

Evaluating Information

Evaluating information is a critical part of the research process and is a valuable skill that will help you in everyday use of information.

Developing this skill now will help you long after you have graduated.

Many criteria can be used to evaluate information, and we will focus on three:




Authority

   Who is responsible for writing the material? What are their credentials?

Relevance

   How does this information relate to my topic? Will it help me to make a point?

Timeliness

   Was the information researched and written at a time apporpriate to your topic?

Types of Periodical Sources

Scholarly - Also known as academic, refereed, or peer-reviewed journals

PopularAlso known as general interest magazines

Trade MagazinesAlso known as professional or industry journals, newsletters, or magazines

More information on distinguishing among types of periodicals

Fact Checker Sites

If the articles you find do not cite sources or if you want to verify information, try some of these fact checking websites:

  • FactCheck.org
    Find non-partisan analysis of current public policy issues. This non-profit political fact-check website is operated and maintained by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Poynter Online
    Extensive list of websites for journalists to discover facts about political candidates and a diverse array of respectable government and political websites.
  • Snopes.com
    Check the veracity of some oft-quoted bits of information. Are they true or merely urban legends?

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test is a common checklist used to evaluate an informaiton resource.

Currency: The timeliness of the web page.

  • If relevant, when was the information gathered?
  • When was it posted? 
  • When was it last revised? 
  • Are links functional and up-to-date? 
  • Is there evidence of newly added information or links?

Relevance: The uniqueness of the content and its importance for your needs.

  • What is the depth and breadth of the information presented? 
  • Is the information unique?
  • Is it available elsewhere, in print or electronic format? 
  • Could you find the same or better information in another source? 
  • Who is the intended audience? Is this easily determined? 
  • Does the site provide the information you need? 
  • Your overall assessment is important. Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: The source of the web page.

  • Who is the author/creator/sponsor? 
  • Are author's credentials listed? 
  • Is the author a teacher or student of the topic? 
  • Does the author have a reputation? 
  • Is there contact information, such as an e-mail address? 
  • Has the author published works in traditional formats? 
  • Is the author affiliated with an organization? 
  • Does this organization appear to support or sponsor the page? 
  • What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything? Example: .com .edu .gov .org 
  • .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.

  • Where does the information come from? 
  • Are the original sources of information listed? 
  • Can you verify any of the information in independent sources or from your own knowledge? 
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed? 
  • Does the language or tone seem biased? 
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typos?

Purpose: The presence of bias or prejudice/The reason the web site exists.

  • Are possible biases clearly stated? 
  • Is advertising content vs. informational content easily distinguishable? 
  • Are editorials clearly labeled? 
  • Is the purpose of the page stated? 
  • Is the purpose to: inform? teach? entertain? enlighten? sell? persuade? 
  • What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything? Example: .com .edu .gov .org 
  • .net

The CRAAP Test was created by Meriam Library at California State University, Chico.