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Life & Mission of Jesus - Connelly: Evaluating Sources

An Acronym to Remember

Today's world is full of acronyms - LOL!, ASAP!, WWJD? So why not one for research? A creative college librarian created a memorable acronym for students doing research called the CRAAP test.  Now, we aren't trying to be crass, but the CRAAP test is used to help guide students through the process of evaluating sources - all sources – print, web, and yes, even databases – because there’s a lot of … stuff (ahem, ahem)  ..out there.  We think you know we’re talking about.

Evaluating sources is one of the most important steps in the research process, and yet students spend the least amount of time (if any) critically thinking about their sources. Evaluating sources before selecting them will help you save time and will help yield the best possible sources for your research paper or project.  Use the tools below to walk you through the process. Give this memorable acronym a try!  We’re pretty sure you won’t forget it.

Defining a Scholarly Source

What does it mean to use "scholarly sources"? It means your teacher wants you to use sources written by an authoritative, credible author or organization.  The credibility of an author is very important in determining the quality of the sources you have located and are thinking of using for your research project.  What makes an author credible?  Degrees, achievements, experience, research, etc.

There are several ways of determining if an author is credible depending on the type of source.  However, the strategies used for books, articles, and websites can also be used for other types of sources.

Books Articles Websites

Check the foreward/preface/ introduction
and back cover of the book for information on the author's credentials/areas of expertise, etc.

First determine the type of publication the article
appeared in. Is it a newspaper or magazine?  These are considered popular sources and are geared to a general audience.  Articles are usually written by journalists

employed by the p
ublication. 

Check to see if the author is listed. 

Look for an About Me/Us link or tab

Check the IndyPL 
catalog, Google Books, or Amazon
 to find other books by the author. 

Is it an academic journal? Academic journals are
written for experts in an academic field and the
articles are contributed by scholars who are considered experts.  An author of a scholarly (or academic) article
will usually include his/her credentials or affiliations. 

You will also see references (footnotes, 
endnotes, etc.). 

Who is hosting the website?

Is it a .com, .org., .gov.?

You can search the databases by author to see if the author has written any articles on the topic or related topics. Check to see if the author has written other articles
on this topic by searching the author's name in an
appropriate article database.  
Is the site regularly updated?
Look for biographical information on the Internet. Search Google Scholar for the author and article. Google Scholar provides a feature that will tell you how often
the article has been cited by others (a high number of
citations is a good indicator that the author is credible). 
Another feature in Google Scholar is the ability to link
to an author's profile.
Search the IndyPL catalog to see if the author has written any books.
  Look for biographical information on the Internet.

Information from Georgina Martorella "How Can I Tell If an Author is Credible?"  Hofstra University Library.

 

Does Your Source Pass the CRAAP Test?