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POLS 3600: American Political Thought: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Information Sources

Your instructors will expect you to use credible sources for your writing assignments.  Evaluating sources is difficult, but asking yourself some critical questions about each of your potential sources can really help. The following questions are just a starting point, but can help you quickly weed out less useful sources and then more closely examine what you have left. 

Does the source help answer your specific research question

Do you understand the source?  Do you need any background information to understanding specialized terminology?

Does the source conform to your assignment instructions?

Is the source useful for your project?  (e.g., gives background information; leads to additional sources; provides corroborating evidence or verification; presents an opposing viewpoint)

Evaluating Sources for Credibility - Video

CRAAP Test - Evaluation Criteria

The CRAAP Test is a set of five evaluation criteria and related questions to help guide thinking about whether a source is credible or not.  CRAAP is an acronym for:






The CRAAP Test is not intended to be a checklist or rating system.  Judgment is necessary to decide whether an article is credible or not.  Evaluating criteria for quality becomes easier with practice.

How Good is a Website?

Web resources can vary greatly in quality.  Anyone can publish anything on the open Web.  Fabrications, propaganda, and misinformation can reside alongside verifiable facts and useful information.  Websites may provide the most current information on breaking news stories and current trends; however, outdated information is also common.  Look for clues to website and content quality before citing materials found via search engines in your writing assignments.

Video: Online Filter Bubbles (TedTalk)