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Research and Writing (RaW): Evaluating Information

Guiding you through the process of finding information - from knowing that you need certain locating, evaluating, and effectively using said information.


Why Evaluate?

You should analyze all the information you come across - regardless of whether you're looking for information for academic, professional, or personal reasons. Evaluating information encourages you to think critically about whether or not it is factual and reliable.

A perk of utilizing the library's resources and databases are the filters that you can utilize. Most databases allow you to search for peer-reviewed sources only. If you limit your searches to peer-reviewed content only, that means some of the evaluation and vetting has been done for you. instead, you can then focus on whether or not it is current enough and relevant to your needs.

However, if you are utilizing information on the world wide web, you'll need to be extra vigilant and cautious. Generally speaking, anyone can publish anything on the internet. That means that most of what you'll find there is published without any type of formal review process.

Evaluating Information

There are evaluation systems that you can utilize to assist you with resource selection. As an example, the CRAAP method is displayed below. A list of other popular evaluation systems can be located at the bottom of this box.

When using the CRAAP method, you'll want to consider the following: 

1. Currency - the timeliness of the information

  • when was it published or posted?
  • has it been updated?
  • does your topic require current information or are older sources also acceptable?

2. Relevance - the importance of the information for your needs

  • does the information relate to your topic?
  • is it written at an appropriate level - not too elementary or advanced?
  • would you be comfortable using it in a research paper?

3. Authority - the source of the information

  • who is the author/publisher/source?
  • what are the author's credentials?
  • is the publisher reputable?

4. Accuracy - the reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the information

  • is the information supported by evidence?
  • has it been reviewed?
  • can you verify the information in other sources?
  • are there spelling or grammatical errors?

5. Purpose - the reason the information exists

  • why was this created - to inform, educate, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • is it objective and free of bias?
Other Evaluation Systems