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Using the CRAAP Test

How to Find Trustworthy Sources
by

Kate Loden

on 29 August 2016

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Transcript of Using the CRAAP Test

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
to evaluate sources of information
Applying the CRAAP Test
Currency:
If relevant, when was the information gathered?
When was it posted or published?
When was it last revised?
Are links functional and up-to-date?
Is there evidence of newly added information or links?
Does the currency of the information matter?
Relevance:
Does the source provide information you need to answer your research question?
What is the depth and breadth of the information presented?
Is the information unique?
Is it available elsewhere, in print or electronic format?
Could you find the same or better information in another source?
Who is the intended audience? Is this easily determined?
Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
Authority
Who is the author/creator/sponsor?
Is it a primary, secondary, or tertiary source of information?
Are author's credentials listed?
Does the author have a reputation?
Is there contact information, such as an e-mail address?
Has the author published works in traditional formats?
Is the author affiliated with an organization?
Does this organization appear to support or sponsor the page?
What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything?
Accuracy
Where does the information come from?
Are the original sources of information listed?
Can you verify any of the information in independent sources or from your own knowledge?
Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
Does the language or tone seem biased?
Are there spelling, grammar, or other typos?
Purpose:
Are possible biases clearly stated?
Is advertising content vs. informational content easily distinguishable?
Are editorials clearly labeled?
Is the purpose of the page stated? Is the purpose to inform? teach? entertain? enlighten? sell? persuade?
What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything?
Which source(s) pass the CRAAP test?
C
urrency:

timeliness of the source
R
elevance:

relation to the question
A
uthority:

source of the source
A
ccuracy:

reliability, truthfulness, & correctness
P
urpose:
reason source exists; presence of bias
on
World Wide Web
and elsewhere

Examples
Published in 1838
Reprinted,
but not updated
Example 1
Copyright 1999-2013
by Independence Hall Association
No update or revision dates provided
Example 2
Which example is more current?
Does it matter?
Example 2 was published more recently,
but Example 1 was written at the time.
Research question:
What was Ben Franklin
like as a person?
The uniqueness of the content,
and its relation to your question
Examples
Research question reminder:
What was Ben Franklin
like as a person?
Autobiography and
essays written by
Ben Franklin
Example 1
Example 2
Relevant, unique/original;
deep, broad (life story and thoughts);
no better source than the man himself;
would definitely use in a research paper
Some content is relevant to the question;
info in the biography, timeline, inventions, Philadelphia history is not particularly unique (can be found elsewhere);
broad, but not very deep;
intended for a general--world-wide--audience, rather than scholars or researchers;
wouldn't use the biographical and historical information in a college research paper (might be OK for pre-college research)
Evaluation:
Evaluation:
Example 3
Book description:
"In Founding Fathers - Uncommon Heroes, respected author Steven W. Allen gloriously brings to life the American Revolutionary heroes: from visionary attorney John Adams to sage philosopher and inventor Ben Franklin; from idealistic author, statesman and architect Thomas Jefferson to the Father of Our Country, the gallant General George Washington; and from inspiring speaker and lawyer Patrick Henry to the persistent and studious Father of the Constitution, James Madison."
Evaluation:
Some info is relevant to the question;
book is about character/heroic qualities of Founding Fathers, but includes others besides Franklin;
info about Franklin as a person is fairly deep;
not many other sources that focus on character;
intended audience seems to be general public, rather than scholars or researchers;
might use this in a research paper.
the timeliness of the information
The source of the source.
Examples
Autobiography and
essays written by
Ben Franklin
Example 1
Franklin IS the source!
this is a primary source of information;
published and reprinted several times;
highly authoritative.
Evaluation:
Example 2
No author listed, cannot evaluate credentials or reputation;
copyrighted by Independence Hall Association publishing as USHistory.org--IHA has been around since 1942;
the website is likely a tertiary source of information, but some primary sources provided: issues of The New England Courant and excerpts from Temple's Diary;
the .org in the domain name and page info indicate that IHA is a non-profit organization
Evaluation:
Example 3
"About Author" page on the book's website:
Evaluation:
Author is an estate planning attorney rather than a historian; other published works are on legal awareness/estate planning; the book appears to be self-published since the publisher is Legal Awareness Series, Inc.--which Allen (the author) founded in 1990;
the book is endorsed by a U.S. Senator,
but overall is not a very authoritative source.
The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.
Examples
Autobiography and
essays written by
Ben Franklin
Example 1
Comes from Franklin himself;
biased toward his views/opinions, but that's
what the research question explores;
highly skilled writer
Evaluation:
Example 2
No references listed for the biographical and historical information; however, original page scans of issues of The New England Courant are provided on the site--these were published/printed by Franklin; excerpts or episodes from Temple's Diary (another primary source) provide an alternative perspective to Franklin's own; the diary likely contains some biases because personal opinions, ideas, or perceptions are what one puts in his/her diary
Evaluation:
Example 3
"Book Reviews" page on the book's website:
Evaluation:
Can't tell if the author lists the sources he consulted when writing the book--if those are included, the information may be verified as accurate and reliable;
reviews of the book contain grammatical errors ("antedote" instead of "anecdote" in the first review);
except for the first reviewer, who is a Senator, can't tell who the other reviewers are
Contents
Brief Biography
Timeline of his life
Inventions & Kite Experiment
Philadelphia history
Photos & Quotes
Issues of The Courant
Excerpts from Temple's Diary
The reason the source exists;
The potential presence of bias or partiality.
Autobiography and
essays written by
Ben Franklin
Example 1
Purpose of autobiography is for author to tell the story of his life from his own point of view; purpose of essays are to express author's viewpoints/opinions; this source will be partial to Franklin's own opinions rather than opinions that others have of Franklin
Evaluation:
Example 2
Purpose of the website is to provide biographical and historical information on Franklin and Philadelphia; the site does contain advertisments from business sponsors, but those are separated from the site contents and do not bias the information presented;
issues of The New England Courant were published and printed by Franklin himself and intended to report the news, views, and events of the time; episodes from Temple's Diary contain personal opinions, ideas, or perceptions of Temple, but provide an alternate perspective on Franklin
Evaluation:
Example 3
Book description:
"In Founding Fathers - Uncommon Heroes, respected author Steven W. Allen gloriously brings to life the American Revolutionary heroes: from visionary attorney John Adams to sage philosopher and inventor Ben Franklin; from idealistic author, statesman and architect Thomas Jefferson to the Father of Our Country, the gallant General George Washington; and from inspiring speaker and lawyer Patrick Henry to the persistent and studious Father of the Constitution, James Madison."
Evaluation:
Book is based on history but its primary purpose is
to inspire or motivate; author's occupation as well as the purpose of the book suggest possible conservative political views; information in the book will be partial to characteristics/traits of heroism--not likely to find info on Franklin's character flaws (if he had any)
Examples
Currency:
written at the time, so very timely
Relevance:
directly relates to research question
Authority:
primary source, info straight from the subject
Accuracy:
verified by historical records and reprinted
Purpose:
express the author's (Franklin himself) points of view and life story
Example 1
Passes the CRAAP test!
Example 2
Partially passes the CRAAP test;
some passing information provided on the website.
Example 3
Does not pass the CRAAP test
although it might be an interesting read!
Examples
Currency:
published in 21st C, but provides sources written

the 18th C--very timely
Relevance:
directly relates to research question
Authority:
website isn't a primary source, but includes some primary sources; site is sponsored by a historical organization
Accuracy:
biographical info is not verified (no references listed), but page scans of some original sources provided--these are verified
Purpose:
to inform; impartial .org site, but historical documents have authors' biases
Currency:
published in 2005, over 2 centuries after Franklin lived
Relevance:
some info relates to research question; contains info about other founding fathers
Authority:
author is not a historian, book is self-published
Accuracy:
info was not verified by an editor or publisher other than the author; however, may contain references to sources consulted
Purpose:
motivate and inspire; partial to the good side of the subjects
Wikipedia
It may be a better source than you think!
Let's give it the
CRAAP test!
Currency
Pages on Wikipedia are updated daily
Talk tab and revision History are provided for each page making it easy to find out when the information was last updated
Many other web pages don't provide publication and revision dates
Print sources are always published months to years after the information in them was gathered
Wikipedia often passes the currency test
Relevance/Coverage
Wikipedia has an article (or page) for just about anything you could possibly be looking for
Entries are "encyclopedic," however, which means that they don't go into much depth
But hyperlinks to other articles/pages allow you to cast a broad net
Most information on Wikipedia can be found elsewhere--it's not an original or unique source of information
Wikipedia gets only a partial pass for relevance
Authority
Anybody can post to Wikipedia, including experts!
However, author's credentials aren't often listed (they aren't in print encyclopedias either)
Contributors/authors can be contacted
Talk tab documents ongoing discussion about the article contents, sources, and interpretations of sources
Most articles are secondary or tertiary sources of information
Wikipedia is not
very authoritative;
no encyclopedia is!
Accuracy
Most Wikipedia articles have extensive references lists, so readers know where the information came from and can verify the information by checking those sources
Talk tab provides further discussion of sources and article contents
Accuracy of information is checked by the world at large
Wikipedia passes the accuracy test!
Purpose
Purpose is to inform
No one is selling anything or editorializing
When information is opinionated, biased, or incomplete it's documented in the Talk tab or in the article itself
Wikipedia passes the purpose/bias test!
Is Wikipedia a bunch of
Not really, no.
At least not for the reasons that most think.
Common misconception:
"Wikipedia is not a reliable source because anyone can post to it."
Wikipedia passes the Accuracy
(or reliability) test.
It's not very Authoritative, but it is fairly reliable.
It's also more Current than other sources
and it's Purpose is unbiased.
What is the CRAAP test?
C
urrency:

timeliness of the source
R
elevance:

relation to the research question
A
uthority:

source of the source
A
ccuracy:

reliability, truthfulness, & correctness
P
urpose:
reason source exists; presence of bias
CRAAP is an acronym representing 5 criteria for evaluating information.
[Copyright info provided at the bottom of the webpage]
Contents
Brief Biography
Timeline of his life
Inventions & Kite Experiment
Philadelphia history
Photos & Quotes
Issues of The Courant
Excerpts from Temple's Diary
Contents
Brief Biography
Timeline of his life
Inventions & Kite Experiment
Philadelphia history
Photos & Quotes
Issues of The Courant
Excerpts from Temple's Diary
So what's the point?
It isn't that we should start citing Wikipedia in research papers.

The point is that when we ban use of Wikipedia on the premise that it's inaccurate, we're wrong.

We may ban it for its lack of authority, but we should teach learners to evaluate their information sources rather than ban any of them
(harmful content excluded, of course).
More importantly, we need to be aware of the messages we send to developing learners about information on the web.

For example, when we tell them not to use Wikipedia, are we suggesting that any other web source is OK?

Anyone can post to Wikipedia, but there are checks in place there to ensure that information is current, accurate, and unbiased.

Anyone can post to the World Wide Web unfettered by checks found at Wikipedia. Are we providing learners with the skills needed to evaluate those sources?
That's the REAL point.
In fact:
Created by
Mary Jo Dondlinger (maybe)
Full transcript