RLCL 1004: Evaluating Sources

FYE information for Religion/Culture, Foreign Languages, and Philosophy majors

CRAAP detection - weeding out bad information sources

When selecting information resources for your projects or papers, you want to make sure they're not, well, stinky.  Using the CRAAP test will let you quickly evaluate any information source, whether it's a book, an article, a website, or anything else.  Just apply these simple criteria:


  • When was the information published or last updated?
  • Have newer articles been published on your topic?
  • Are links or references to other sources up to date?
  • Is your topic in an area that changed rapidly, like technology or popular culture?  Does it matter for your research?


  • Does the information answer your research question?
  • Does the information meet the stated requirements of the assignment?
  • Is the information too technical or too simplified for you to use?
  • Does the source add something new to your knowledge of the topic?


  • What are the author’s credentials?
  • Is the author affiliated with an educational institution or prominent organization?
  • Can you find information about the author from reference sources or the Internet?
  • Do other books or authors cite the author?


  • Are there statements you know to be false?
  • Are there errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar? Was the information reviewed by editors or subject experts before it was published?
  • What citations or references support the author’s claims?
  • What do other people have to say about the topic?


  • Is the author’s purpose to sell, persuade, entertain, or inform?
  • Is there an obvious bias or prejudice?
  • Are alternative points of view presented?
  • Does the author omit important facts or data that might disprove the claim?
  • Does the author use strong or emotional language?

Information Lifecycle

Evaluating Websites

Peer Review in 3 minutes

You will be asked, during your college career, to find peer reviewed or scholarly articles.  But what does that mean?

Information Types/ Evaluation

Quick tip: 98% of the periodicals with the word "journal" in the title are scholarly.  A notable exception: Ladies' Home Journal.


If you have doubts, you can always look up the journal in Ulrich's, one of our databases.  If the 3rd column has a little referee jersey in it, then the journal is refereed, which means it's scholarly.

As a final check, you can go to the libraries's database Ulrich's and enter the title of a journal to see if it's scholarly, peer-review, or some other type of periodical.

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources