You should always critically evaluate any information you find in order to ensure its quality. This is especially important for information from web sites, since almost anyone can publish information on the Internet. Applying the CRAAP Test to sources of all types will help you to make an objective evaluation and eliminate the . . .!
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- Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
- Are the links functional? (web sites only)
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate educational level for your need?
- Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
- Would you be comfortable using this source for a 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 qualifications to write on the topic?
- Is there contact information for the author/publisher?
- Does the domain (.com, .edu, .gov, .org, .net) reveal anything about the author or source? (web sites only)
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem unbiased or free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exist.
- What is the purpose of the information? To inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
- Does the author make his/her 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?
An information source that does not meet all five criteria of the CRAAP Test may still be useful for your purposes. Some criteria may be more or less important depending on your need. For example, currency is more important for medical research than it is for a literary criticism. If a source has any flaws, such as author bias, but you still choose to use it, be sure to note the flaws and explain why the information is still relevant to the topic you are researching.
Adapted from http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf.