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SOCY 122 ASO Section 700: Introduction to Academic Library Research

Evaluating and Citing Information

Up to now, we have primarily been focusing on how to find books and journal articles using the Library's research tools. In this module we consider two very important parts of the research process that occur after you have located a piece of information (book, journal article or website): evaluating and citing sources.

Evaluating Sources: RADAR

Relevance: How is the information relevant to your assignment?

  • Consider your audience and compare the information source with a variety of sources
  • Ask yourself if the information relates to your topic or answers your research question

Authority: Who/what is the source (such as author and publisher) of the information?

  • What are the author's qualifications or credentials? Does the author have credibility through their education or experience to be writing on this topic? What is the author or publisher's affiliation? 
  • If there is no author listed, authority can be evaluated based on the organization/company/business that published the information

Date: When was this information published? Is publication date important?

  • Consider if you need the most recent information on your topic (depending on your topic and the assignment instructions, you may need to focus on recently published information)
  • Historical sources may provide context


Appearance: Does the information look professional or academic? Does it have citations and references/a bibliography? 

  • Consider the way the information is presented: articles supported by evidence and citations are more credible, while editorials, opinion pieces, and blog posts may be more subjective.
  • Check who/what the author references and evaluate the quality of the information they use to support their argument.

Reason for Writing: Why did the author publish this information? 

  • Was the information created to inform, teach, entertain, persuade, sell something, or for some other reason?
  • Are there any clear biases in the information? To what degree is the information objective and impartial?

Adapted from: Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sources. Journal of Information Science, 39(4), 470–478.

Evaluating Information: The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test is another method for evaluating information to help you determine if the sources you found are reliable.  CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. These are questions you can consider as you evaluate any piece of information you find:


  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • If it's a web-based source, are the links functional?


  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced?)
  • Have you examined a variety of sources before determining to use this one?
  • Does the information/source meet your assignment requirements?


  • Who is the author/creator/publisher/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations provided? What are they?
  • What the author's qualifications or credentials in writing about this subject?
  • Does the information provide references or sources of data? 
  • If it's a web-based source, does the URL reveal anything about the source? Examples include .com .edu .gov


  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Is the content primarily opinion? Or is it balanced with multiple points of view?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?


  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

The CRAAP Test was developed by librarian at California State University, Chico. Content for this guide also based on CRAAP Detection: Criteria for Evaluation Information, created by OTIS College of Art and Design Library.