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A Guide to Comparative Cultural Studies and Humanities Research: Evaluating Sources

Is it a good resource, or is it CRAAP?

Good sources enhance the credibility and persuasiveness of an argument, while a source that lacks credibility can destroy it. Use the following criteria to ensure your source is a good one:

Currency:

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  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?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

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?

Authority:

  • Who is the author/publisher/source?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • What does the URL extension reveal about the author or source? (.com, .edu, .gov, .org)

Accuracy:

  • Does the author cite their sources?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?

Purpose:

  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intention or purpose clear?
  • Is the information Fact? Opinion? Propaganda?

Adapted from a handout developed by librarians at Meriam Library, California State University, Chico, 2004

Things to Watch Out For

  • Self-published material (this means it hasn't been edited or reviewed by someone else)
  • No author named
  • Inflammatory or emotional language
  • Statistics, facts, or research referred to but not cited
  • Opinions presented as fact
  • Statements/conclusions that contradict other credible sources