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HIS 330 - Teaching and Learning History and Geography: Evaluating Sources


Finding sources is only the first part of the research process. Once you locate sources, you need to be able to evaluate them to see if they're appropriate not only for a college paper but for your paper.

This is mostly about applying critical thinking skills and common sense.

Evaluate by applying the CRAAP test

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

Evaluate Resources


scale with books Finding sources is only the first part of the research process.  Once you locate sources, you need to be able to evaluate them to see if they're appropriate. 


scale with books Want to know if a journal is scholarly and/or peer-reviewed?  Look it up in Ulrich's Online: 


Ulrichs logo

Is it a good resource, or is it CRAAP?


  • 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  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic? Information on stem cell research will become out of date more quickly than an essay on Dickens, for example.
  • Are the links functional? (for websites only)


  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level for you?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?


  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • For websites:
    • What does the URL domain reveal about the author or source? (
    • What does the URL extension reveal about the author or source? (.com, .edu, .gov, .org, .net)


  • Where does the information come from?
  • Does the author site her sources?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
    • For websites: are all of the links internal, or do they point to other sites that support this information?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors?


  • Why was the information published? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intention or purpose clear?
  • Is the information face? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

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