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Evaluate each source

Before you decide to use any book, article, or website in your work you should consider the following

  • Purpose: Why was it created?

  • Authority: Who created this material? What are the author’s credentials?

  • Scope/Coverage: What does it include and leave out?

  • Accuracy: Is the information provided correct?

  • Currency: When was it created or last updated?

  • Objectivity: What is the author’s or sponsor’s point of view?

By asking yourself these questions, you are able to thoughtfully consider the information and how the writer is using the information to make an argument. When you use sources from the library you can be confident that most of these resources have gone through a publishing process that requires high quality research and factual evidence to support the writer's work.

Some popular methods of evaluating a resource (book, article, website) are listed below:

The CRAAP test - This is the classic assessment that students and academics use to evaluate a source. The CRAAP Test looks at currency, relevancy, authority, accuracy, and the purpose of websites. It is a list of questions to help you evaluate information you find on the web. You can download a helpful PDF on using the CRAAP test below. Based on CSU Chico framework.

Lateral reading - This is a newer assessment style that is based on how fact checkers look at resources, especially online (i.e. websites). This method encourages outside research about the resource. For example, when you encounter a website that you have never heard of before with information about your topic on it, you should do a Google search to see what people are saying about this website, the author of the website, or the company that runs the website. For a good breakdown of this method, visit the research guide from the University of Iowa Libraries here.

Fact checking websites

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out if a story or fact is real. The internet has allowed us to share lots of good information, but has allowed fake stories and hoaxes to spread through the online community as well. Here are some good websites where you can check to see if story if real or fake.