Skip to Main Content

INFO 4700/Carruth/Spring2023: Evaluating Sources

Steps to Evaluate a Resource

  1. First, can you tell if the resource is a "primary resource," which means it is an article reporting original research done by the authors or is a piece of original writing (a memoir, description of event they experienced, something the author created, including art, poetry, etc.)?
    1. Or is it a "secondary resource" which reports/comments on a primary resource, such as a news article or a website summarizing findings of researchers? This can be important depending on the requirements of your assignment.
  2. Examine appearance for clues about who created it, why they created it and what the author wants to achieve
    1. look for strange URLs on websites ( etc)
    2. look for author/byline: if there is none, red flag! If there is, who are they? What organizations are they connected to?
    3. look for ads, format, sensational language, grammatical errors
  3. Assess resource with the "CRAAP" test:
    1. Currency? Is the item current? Does it reflect the most current information? Can it be found elsewhere?
    2. Relevance? Does the information presented address the issue it is supposed to or does it veer off on other topics? Does it address all sides of the issue?
    3. Authority? Who wrote the article? What organization supports it? What is their reputation? Do they have credentials that support their expertise?
    4. Accuracy? Can you determine that they are correct? Look at fact checking resources. Are they presenting all the information?
    5. Purpose? What is the underlying reason this resource was created? Are they trying to educate? Entertain? Persuade? Are they biased?
  4. Use "lateral reading" and critical thinking to assess resource
    1. Look for collaborating evidence ELSEWHERE
    2. Look at evidence/studies cited in resource.
    3. Look in a variety of different places with different political affiliations to confirm validity.
  5. Examine your own bias and perspective
    1. Think about the bias of this resource and compare it to your own bias/beliefs/emotional reaction.
    2. Can you separate your feelings from the topic and think about it critically?
    3. Can you let go of your opinion and be ope to new possibly conflicting ideas?