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Fullerton High School International Baccalaureate: CRAAP Test

Welcome Indians!

What is the CRAAP Test?

Due to the vast number of sources existing online, it can be difficult to tell whether some sources are trustworthy to use as tools for research. The CRAAP test contains a series of questions that helps students and educators determine if sources are trustworthy and appropriate for academic research. CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. By employing the CRAAP test while evaluating sources, a researcher reduces the likelihood of using unreliable information. Please keep in mind that the following questions are not static nor exhaustive. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

If you have additional questions, ask a librarian for help!

Evaluating Sources: The CRAAP Test

Currency

  • The timeliness of the information:
    • When was the information published or posted?
    • When was the information last revised or updated? (online this is often found in the footer area)
    • Is the published date appropriate in relation to your research topic? Are you doing current or historical research?
    • Is this the most current information available on your topic?
    • If reviewing a web source, are the links functional or are they broken?

Relevance

  • The importance of the information in relation to your topic:
    • What is the depth of coverage? Does it cover all important context?
    • Is the information unique? Is it available elsewhere, or referencing another source?
    • Who is the intended audience? Is the information at the appropriate level for your research or does it target a different type of audience?
    • Is it scholarly or popular material? 
    • Does it fulfill all your assignment requirements? 

Authority

  • Consider the source of the content:
    • Who is the author, creator, or sponsor of the information?
    • What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?
    • Is contact information available, such as an email address?
    • Is the source reputable? Does the author have a reputation? Google them!
    • Has the author published works in traditional formats, or only online?
    • If searching online, what does the domain name/URL reveal about the source? Websites that end with .com are commercial websites (usually selling something). Websites with .edu are educational. Websites with .gov are official government websites. Websites with .org are organizations, commonly used for schools and non-profits. Don't accept .org websites at face value, be sure to check out the "About" section since for-profit entities also use them.

Accuracy

  • The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content:
    • Where does the information come from? Are there sources listed? Did the author provide a references list or bibliography?
    • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
    • Are the sources trustworthy and credible?
    • Can you verify the information from independent sources? Corroborate!
    • Are there spelling, grammar, factual, or other typographical errors?

Purpose

  • The reason the information exists:
    • What is the purpose of the information? To Inform? Teach? Persuade? Sell? Entertain?
    • Does the language or tone seem biased?
    • Does the point of view appear objective, impartial, and considering multiple perspectives?
    • Is the information based on facts, opinion, or propaganda?
    • Does the site provide information or does it attempt to debunk other information? (Weighing positive evidence versus negative evidence)
    • Is the website free of advertising? 
    • Does the organization appear to support or sponsor the page? Is there a conflict of interest?

Adapted from Blakeslee, Sarah (2004) "The CRAAP Test," LOEX Quarterly, 31(3). Available at: http://commons.emich.edu/loexquarterly/vol31/iss3/4

Searching for High Quality Web Sources

One recommendation for finding high-quality web sources is to place limits on the types of Internet sites you are searching. For example, we learned from the CRAAP test that we should be skeptical of commercial sites that are trying to sell a particular product or agenda. These sites usually end with “.com.”

You can limit your search to government Web sites in Google by typing: site:.gov [skipping a space and then entering your search terms]

You can limit your search to education Web sites by typing: site:.edu [skipping a space and then entering your search terms]

You can limit your search to Web sites of organizations by typing: site:.org [skipping a space and then entering your search terms]

Apply the CRAAP Test

Now that you are familiar with the criteria used in the CRAAP test, you can start to evaluate web sources.

Remember, high-quality Web sources  

      -are written by reputable, credible organizations or authors. 

      -are timely and current.

      -include citations and reference entries that point to specific evidence to back claims. 

      -are substantive and provide in-depth analysis of the issues at hand and/or specific studies.

 

Please beware the following Web sources that generally are NOT appropriate for an academic paper! Try to avoid them.

1. Websites that have a credible author but are not substantive in content

These web sources are written for a popular/lay audience, and can be wonderful resources for the general public who are seeking general information on a topic. However, they are not detailed or substantive enough to be cited in an academic paper, and they often do not cite the sources of their evidence. Keep in mind, these sources may be tricky to evaluate because the author or website provider is often reputable by name.

2. Sources found online that "count" as scholarly research articles

Research articles can be found online outside of the academic databases your instructors encourage you to use. However, an article found on a website would count as a scholarly research article and not a high-quality web source. Oftentimes you can find the title of the journal on the page, but because it may appear in abbreviated form, it may be hard for students to determine the source. Look out for publications with the prefix https://www.ncbi.nlm

3. Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a collection of crowd-sourced articles. They can be written an edited by anyone. Although the reference lists may be helpful to find credible books and articles, a Wikipedia article in itself is not a reliable source and should not be used in an academic paper. 

4. Science Daily/Press release

Some websites briefly summarize and publicize the results of a newly published study. These sources are not appropriate for an academic research paper, in part, because press releases are often written by communications professionals or journalists who do not have knowledge in the discipline of the study. Because press releases intend to draw people’s attention to a study and tend to be very short in length, the results or conclusions may be exaggerated or overly simplified for a general audience. The author of the actual study that is being reported may or may not have been able to check the press release for accuracy. It is better to track down the study and read it yourself.

5. For-Profit Websites

Commercial websites present information that may look credible and specific, but they often do not provide citations or reference entries that back the claims that they make. Even when statistics or citations are provided on a commercial website, we must take them with a grain of salt. A site trying to sell a product may present very one-sided information. Finally, commercial sites may also serve the companies that advertise products on their pages. If a web source contains advertisements, we should treat this source with skepticism.