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Information Literacy: Evaluating Information: Introduction

Introduction

This module covers the basics of evaluating resources for authority, accuracy, and other criteria.

Evaluate your Sources!

When you look at an information source --- no matter whether it's an article or an entertainment news story on ET --- you should always be evaluating its content.  An easy way to do this is to run it through the "CRAAP" test.  The CRAAP test is a list of evaluation criteria (explained below) that can help you make sure you are finding good information and using good sources.

Currency 

  • Do I need current or historical information?  Is this the most updated source I can find? Or is this source from the proper time frame to serve as a historical resource? 
  • Has this information been revised or changed since it was published?
  • Bottom line: Does this offer appropriately current or historical information?

Relevance 

  • Does this information help me accomplish the purpose of my paper/work?
  • Does this easily relate to my topic?
  • Does this information strengthen my argument or statements?
  • Bottom line: Is this a source that adds value to my work? Is it worth including?

Authority 

  • Who is the author? What expertise do they have -- knowledge, education, experience?  
  • Who is the publisher? Why have they made this information available?
  • Does the author or published have any motivation or bias for their work?
  • Bottom line:  Can you trust this author to know what they're talking about?  Is this person the best source that you can find on this topic?

Accuracy 

  • Is this information correct? Reliable?
  • Can this information be verified in other sources?
  • What methods did they use to collect this information/data? How did they draw their conclusions?
  • Do they list their sources? Are these sources academic/scholarly/credible?
  • Bottom line: Can you trust that this information is true?

Purpose

  • Why was this written? Why does this information exist? Why was it made public? 
  • What was the writer's purpose? The publisher's purpose?
  • Are there any hints of bias? Is the author up front about this bias?
  • Is this information trying to persuade or influence you?
  • Bottom line:  Understanding the purpose of the source can ensure that you do not fall prey to biased or one-sided information.

Video: What is Authority

Evaluation Handouts

This is for all those who would prefer to have a paper copy of the evaluation checklist.  Just click on this document, download it, and print.

Authority is Constructed and Textual - ACRL

Borrowed from the Information Literacy and Critical Thinking LibGuide from Fulton-Montgomery Community College's Evans Library (http://library.fmcc.edu/infolit) and Inspired in part by Amanda Hovious and designerlibrarian.wordpress.com

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