HIS 250: Historian's Craft: Evaluate

Professor McCoy, Fall 2016

Oh, CRAAP!

Whenever you use information, you need to evaluate it.  The CRAAP method will help you do this.  

For web pages, you'll also want to pay attention to the domain,  found at the end of the URL. Domains can provide some information on the provider, as well as the purpose. For example, organizational domains (.org)  usually exist to present their point of view, or to persuade you. Examples of .org domains:  NRA, Right to Life.  Commercial domains (.com) exist to provide a service or a product.  Other domains: .edu, .mil, .net, .gov.

C   Currency

  • When was the information published?  When was it updated?
  • Are links up to date?  Are references to other sources current?
  • Have newer articles on your topic been published?
  • Does your topic require very current information (for example, technology medicine, popular culture)?

R   Relevance   

  • Does the information answer your research question?
  • Does the information meet your assignment's requirements?
  • Is the information too technical?   Is it too simplified?
  • Does it add something new to your knowledge?

A   Accuracy

  • Is the information accurate?  Are there inaccuracies?  False information?
  • Are spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors?
  • Was the information reviewed by editors or subject experts before it was published? (i.e referred or peer-reviewed)
  • Are there other citations or references that support the author’s claims?
  • What do other people have to say about the topic?

A   Authoritativeness

  • What are the author’s credentials or qualifications?
  • Is the author affiliated with an educational institution or a prominent organization?
  • Can you find information about the author from reference sources or the Internet?
  • Do other books or authors cite the author?

  Purpose

  • Is the author’s purpose to sell, persuade, entertain, or inform?
  • Is there an obvious bias or prejudice?
  • Are alternative points of view presented?
  • Does the author omit important facts or data that might disprove the claim?
  • Does the author use strong or emotional language?

Source:  The CRAAP test was developed by the librarians at Meriam Library, California State University at Chico.  Used with permission.

Evaluate

To ensure you are including only valid information in your research, evaluate your sources using the criteria below.  

The C.R.A.A.P. Test

Currency

The timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance 

The importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority 

The source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified 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 (examples:  .com .edu .gov .org .net)

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 referreed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the information seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?

Purpose

The reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information?  Is it to inform, to teach, to sell, entertain, persuade?
  • Do the authors / sponsors make their intentions or purposes clear?
  • Is the information factual, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Source:  The C.R.A.A.P Test was created by Librarians at California State University, Chico.  It is posted here with their kind permission.