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HCOM 100, 300: Evaluate Sources

Evaluating Sources


CRAAP Evaluation

Currency - Timeliness of 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  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?

Relevance - The importance of the information for you needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before choosing this one?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority - The source of the information for your needs

  • 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 email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

 Accuracy - The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the 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?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose - Reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Types of Periodicals: Journals, Magazines, and Trade Magazines

scholarly vs popular

Scholarly:  Academic, in-depth peer-reviewed articles, original research by experts, bibliographies.

Popular:  Current events, people stories, aimed for general audience.

Chart above courtesy of Lettycia Terrones


Chart below courtesy of Cynthia Bruns






Few or no advertisements

Extensive advertising

Extensive advertising


Scholars and college students

General; broad-based

Working Professionals


Scholars & researchers

Staff and freelance writers

Professionals and staff


Articles: long bibliographies


Might have a short bibliography


Academic, research-oriented

Simple language

Professional terminology


Can be 6-40 pages

Varies; often short

Varies, often short


  • Few or no pictures
  • Text w/statistics
  • Few colors
  • Extensive pictures
  • Glossy
  • Colorful
  • Extensive pictures
  • Glossy
  • Colorful


University or professional

For-profit, commercial

Professional organizations


  • American Journal of Sociology
  • Social Problems
  • Crime and Delinquency
  • Journal of Sociology

Scholarly journals are expensive and available through academic libraries.AJS journal cover

  • Time
  • Newsweek
  • Discover
  • Sports Illustrated
  • InStyle

Magazines are available in bookstores and stores.

Newsweek cover

  • Corrections Today
  • Police Chief
  • Beverage World
  • American Libraries
  • Fast Food Times

Trade magazines come with membership in a professional organization.Police Chief journal cover

Google Government Search

google governmentGoogle Government searches federal, state, and local web sites with domains .gov and .mil as well as select government sites with .edu, .us., and .com domains. Google Government is an excellent source for finding statistical information.

Google Education Search

Searches websites with .edu domains.

Class Activity - Evaluate with CRAAP


CRAAP Criteria

The CRAAP Criteria:

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose