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Evaluate Information

Criteria to consider in evaluating information, including websites, regardless of the format in which it appears.

Printable Evaluating Information Worksheet

Currency

The timeliness of the 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  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic? Note: very current information is more critical in some fields, e.g. the sciences, than in other fields, e.g., the humanities.
  • [Web sites]: Do all links work?

Reliability

The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • 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.

  • What is the title or name of the web page(s), entry, or article you are examining? How difficult is this to determine?
  • 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? Hint: you may need to look elsewhere to find this information.
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Is there advertising on the site? If so, what type of advertising is there and is it clearly differentiated from the content?
  • [Web sites]: Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? 
    • subdomain name, example: http://www.stmarytx.edu
    • domain examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy

The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.

  • Where does the information come from? Is this documented? Are the author's sources listed, either in footnotes, a bibliography, or end references?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Is there any indication that the information has been reviewed by editors or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammatical, or other typographical errors?

Purpose

The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Who is the intended audience? How can you tell?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • [Web sites]: What types of colors, graphics, audio, video, text are used? What do these elements convey? How effectively does the site or page convey the intended message? 
  • [Web sites]: Do the graphics provide useful additional information or serve an important function or are they merely aesthetically pleasing?

Adapted from "Evaluating Information – Applying the CRAAP Test." 29 Sept. 2009. Meriam Library, California State University, Chico. Web. 3 Sept. 2010.

Additional Criteria

Other criteria to consider:

  • How broad or deep is the coverage of the topic?
  • Is this information available here at the library or at another location that is readily accessible?
  • What other resources are available on this topic?
  • Has a Reference Librarian been consulted to help you find other sources?
  • Considering your responses, would you use this information source for a project or paper? Why or why not?