Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

WRT 104/106 Guide for Instructors

Planning for the library instruction session

Evaluating Information

When you search for information, you're going to find plenty... but is it accurate and reliable? You will have to determine this for yourself, and the CRAAP Test can help. The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help determine if the information you find is good quality. Your information source may not meet every criterion on this list; different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need. So why guess? Is your source giving you truly credible and useful information, or just a lot of...?!

Currency: The timeliness of the information.
  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or too out-of-date for my topic?
  • Are all the links functional or are there dead links?*
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
  • Does the information relate to my topic or answer my question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too simple or advanced) for my needs?
  • Did I look at a variety of sources before deciding to use this one?
  • Would I be comfortable using this source for my college research paper?
Authority: The source of the information.
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net*
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed by anyone else?
  • Can I verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased? Or is it free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, typographical, or other errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
*criteria specifically for evaluating Web site information

adapted from:

Evaluating information – Applying the CRAAP test, 10/24/2007. Reference & Instruction, Meriam Library ReSEARCH Station, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico, CA. 17 Mar 2008. <>

Prepared for University Library lobby display, Evaluating information from the World Wide Web, March 2008.

For assistance
If you need further assistance, please stop by the Info & Research Help Desk, IM us, or call (401) 874-2653.

K. Cheromcha & M. MacDonald, 3/08

Identifying Scholarly/Professional Articles

Cover of a scholarly journal

Cover of a popular magazine



Look at the Articles:

1. May have abstract at beginning.

Look at the Articles:

1. No abstract at the beginning.

2. Authors' credentials or research institution may be listed. 2. Author's credentials or research institutions are not listed.
3. Has a list of references or bibliography at the end. 3. No references or bibliography at the end.
4. Articles have a very serious tone. 4. Articles may be written in a chatty or easy-to-read style.
5. If images are included, they serve to support the research in the article. 5. Images are used to draw attention, but don't provide substantial supporting material.

Look at the Citation:

6. May have journal or bulletin in the periodical title.

    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
    Journal of Soil & Water

Look at the Citation:

6. May have magazine or popular words in periodical title.

    Mother Jones
    People Weekly

7. Article titles are longer and research-sounding, nothing catchy. 7. Article titles may be short, may include catchy phrases or puns.
8. Articles frequently have more than one author. 8. Articles are often staff-written.
9. Articles are longer – more than three pages. 9. Articles are shorter, usually under three pages.
10. Issued less often; quarterly, semi-annually or monthly. 10. Issued often – weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

Look at the Periodicals:

11. Few or no illustrations; little color.

Look at the Periodicals:

11. Heavily illustrated, with color.

12. No advertising. 12. Has advertisements.
13. Matte paper. 13. Glossy Paper.
14. Lists editorial board members on inside pages. 14. Uses eye-catching typography and layout.


15. Not something you'd find on a newsstand.


15. Something you may find on a newsstand.

For assistance
If you need further assistance, please stop by the Info & Research Help Desk, use our live chat service, or call (401) 874-2653.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.