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WR122 Burnell

Research guide for Carol Burnell's most excellent WR122 class.

Evaluate information using the CRAP Test

Evaluating information is especially important when completing projects and assignments in college (and at work!) because you will be evaluated on the quality of sources you use. The CRAP Test is a helpful tool to use when deciding if a source is "good." CRAP stands for Currency, Reliability, Authority and Purpose.

When you evaluate a source, consider these four concepts by asking yourself a few questions about each.

Currency

  • When was the item originally written or created?
  • How recently has the item been updated?
  • Is the information current enough for your topic?

Reliability

  • How important is it for you that this information is accurate?
  • Are there Works Cited or References, informal citations, or links to outside sources? Are sources included for data, quotations, and images?
  • Was the item reviewed by experts or people with relevant experience?
  • Does this information have any characteristics of misinformation, disinformation, or fake news?
  • Does the information seem accurate based on your existing knowledge of the subject?

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author? What does it mean if you cannot identify the creator or author?
  • What are their credentials? Can you find any information about the author's background, education, and/or experience?
  • Who is the publisher, sponsor, or hosting website? Are they reputable? What is the publisher's interest (if any) in sharing this information? What is on their "About Us" page?

Purpose / Point of View

  • Does the information help you answer your questions, learn widely about your topic, and / or think about your topic in new ways?
  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Can you identify bias in the article? Does the information amplify certain viewpoints or experiences? Does the information omit or misconstrue certain viewpoints or experiences?
  • Is this information meant to educate you, persuade you, sell you something, and / or appeal to your emotions or values? If so, are these intentions clearly stated?
  • Who is the intended audience for this information? How might the audience impact what is shared and how (e.g., does this resource require in-depth knowledge to understand)? Is this information intended for you and your information needs?

CRAP Test adapted from Beestrum, M., & Orenic, K. (2008). The CRAP test. Available from http://commons.emich.edu

CRAP Test handouts

Scholarly and popular sources

Scholarly and Popular Sources from Carnegie Vincent on Youtube.

Check your understanding:

  • What part of a scholarly article summarizes the main points?
  • Are newspapers scholarly or popular? Why?
  • What is it called when an article is reviewed by experts?
  • What clues in scholarly articles indicate that the author is an expert?
  • What do the footnotes and bibliography allow readers to do?
  • What are some ways you can visually identify a popular source?

What does peer reviewed mean?

Peer-reviewed articles are published to inform other scholars and students in higher education of new research and findings. The process of peer review helps to ensure that each published article is unique, accurate, credible, and objective.

Characteristics of a Peer-Reviewed Article

  • Information is organized into sections with headings: Abstract, introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and references.
  • Usually long and in-depth; 10-20 pages is normal.
  • Includes graphs or tables but few, if any, images or advertisements.
  • Includes specialized or field-specific language.
  • Information is presented objectively, without bias.
  • Includes reference lists and in-text citations.

Authorship

  • Experts in their fields: researchers conducting primary research, practitioners, professors and scholars. Credentials are either provided in the article or easy to access.
  • Often an organization will publish a journal (e.g., the American Medical Association publishes JAMA and the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Learn how to efficiently read peer-reviewed articles:

How to spot fake news

How to spot fake news infographic. By IFLA.

International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). "How to spot fake news," 2017. commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:How_to_Spot_Fake_News.jpg

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