Santee AP Students Research Guide: Evaluating Sources

Scholarly Compared to Popular Resources

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journal Article

Popular Magazine Article

Author is expert on topic or scholar

Author may be a lay reporter (non-professional)

Includes sources: footnotes and bibliography

Sources may not be cited formally

Vocabulary is complex and technical

Vocabulary is familiar, non-technical

Graphics used to illustrate a point

Graphics used for visual impact

Published monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually

Published weekly or monthly

Published in an academic journal

Published in a popular, general interest, or news magazine


Report events or findings of others

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

Information may not necessarily be "good" or "bad" but some things may not be appropriate for the context of your assignment or your argument. Keep in mind the following criteria from the CRAAP test when you are evaluating information.

Currency - the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated since then?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?

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 one you will use?

Authority - the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Does the URL or publication source reveal anything about the author or source?

Accuracy - the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Is the information supported by other evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?

Purpose - the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

*The CRAAP test was developed by librarians from Miriam Library at CSU Chico.