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Evaluating Sources: Evaluating Sources

Don't take information at face value. Check your sources to be sure they're reliable. Here's how!


A short example of the decisionmaking process:


("What Is Red?," 2011)


In more direct techniques for evaluating information, a popular form for evaluation has been the CRAAP test. It takes into account the following:

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

Applying the CRAAP Test Video

(California State University, Chico, 2011)

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Information


A number of standards exist to evaluate information. Some may evaluate information as part of an overall decisionmaking process or analysis; others speak directly to assessing information in a sort of scorecard fashion. 

With so many options, what's the bottom line with evaluating information?

It's this: Whether details you hear from a friend, read in an article, or see in an advertisement, you should never take any information at face value. Read closely, ask questions, and interpret your findings.

Check out some of the ways to evaluate information in this guide, and for a guide specific to evaluating Web sources, see this guide


Evaluating Sources by Rhetorical Analysis

Joel Burkholder (2012) argues that messages are not "inert objects" but "dynamic, social acts."  Students who examine relationships among author, purpose, audience, and context—a process called rhetorical analysis--can describe and evaluate the actions performed by each message. See more in this handout.

CT Wheel

A holistic form of evaluating information--and decisionmaking in general--can be found in the critical thinking wheel below:

Larger view of the wheel

(Paul & Elder, 2007)   


In his 1998 article "Teaching undergrads WEB evaluation: A guide for library instruction," Kapoun presents an evaluative criteria used by many teaching professionals. His criteria includes the following:

  • Accuracy
  • Authority
  • Objectivity
  • Currency
  • Coverage

Read more on these criteria

(Cornell University Libraries, 2010)