Skip to main content

Rehabilitation Counseling: Evaluating Information

Why Evaluate?

A vast amount of information is available to you from a wide variety of sources.  Not all information is created equal however and part of your job as a scholar is to choose the information that best and most reliably helps you answer your research questions.   Fortunately, there are some standard criteria you can use to help you determine if a source is really something you would feel confident in using for your finished research project.   Remember ALL information must be evaluated but the evaluation process is even more critical for information you find using the World Wide Web.  Anyone can publish on the WWW.  There is no editor, editorial board, peer reviewed process for the "free", "visible" WWW available to anyone who has a computer and an Internet service provider.  Therefore, it is critical you be aware of the basic criteria for evaluating all information plus some additional criteria that should be considered for Web information sources.

SMART: Evaluating Sources Video

Information Evaluation Sites

The CRAAP Test shown in the right-hand box was developed by librarians at Meriam Library, California State University Chico and is one of many on the WWW intended to help you determine if you have "good" information.  The following link we found interesting; it was one of many similar resources.  And remember, whether you use the CRAAP test, the CRAP checklist, the CARS checklist or whatever, make use of one that includes ALL of the criteria your instructor considers to be important.

Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources (University of Southern Maine)

The CRAAP Checklist

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  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?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?
  • 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 .edu .gov .org .net

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

  • 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?