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Course & Subject Guides

Public Speaking - Johnstown Campus

This guide will help Public Speaking students find source content for their informative and persuasive speeches.

The CRAAP Test

Evaluating Information – Applying The CRAAP Test

When you do research, you're going to find lots of information from a vast array of sources . . . but how do you know what's good to use and trust or is suitable for your need? You'll have to determine that for yourself, and The CRAAP Test can help. The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help you evaluate a source or information against five different criteria. Of course, some criterion will be more or less important depending on what you're researching and the context of your need. 

It's also important that you evaluate a source by looking beyond it to learn what others have said about it and to compare the source and verify the information it presents with other sources for your research topic or question. This is called lateral searching (see the SIFT method below to learn more) and it's what professional fact-checkers do.

Consider the . . .

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • What is the date of publication? For a website, the copyright date may not reflect when the information was written.
  • Does the source use recent information?
  • Are the references or links current/functional? 
  • Does currency matter for this topic? Why or why not? Sometimes it's important to have the most current information, such as for health or legal-related research, but for other topics not so much.

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • What aspect of my research question(s) does this source answer?
  • Is the intended audience appropriate for academic research? (For personal research, you may not require a scholarly source but something intended for children likely won't be sufficient enough for older individuals.)
  • Does this source provide a new perspective or piece of information?
  • Is this source too technical (advanced) or general (simple) for my need?
  • Did I look at a variety of sources before deciding to use this one?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/ publisher/ sponsor of the information or source?
  • What credentials related to the topic at hand does the author have? (If an author has a degree/experience, in what field is it?) 
  • Does the author have any relevant affiliations with a respected university or organization? 
  • Has the author written on this subject before? 
  • Is the author/ publication/ organization reputable? (Tip: Think critically about a source’s own claims of credibility. You can verify an author's or publisher's qualifications with a lateral search by Googling them to see what others may have noted about them.)
  • Does the author have any privilege and are any voices missing from the conversation?
  • For a website, don't simply rely on just the URL (i.e., .com, .edu, .gov, .org, .net) to decide who's behind the source. Not all of the top level domains are regulated. E.g., a .org site may not be sponsored by a non-profit organization. Also reflect on your research need because authority is contextual, so a .com may be the better source. 

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the information.

  • Does the source contain any false information or errors? Does the source align with other sources that discuss this topic? (Remember: Do a lateral search to go beyond a specific source!) Can you verify the information from personal knowledge?
  • Does the source use reputable sources to support the claims made? Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been edited by anyone else (e.g., a news report) or gone through peer review if scholarly?
  • Are any research methods used well-designed and are conclusions from the research supported by the evidence?
  • Are there spelling or other errors? Does the information seem complete, or are facts missing?

Purpose: The reason the information exists. 

  • Why did the author or creator decide to share this information? To inform, entertain, persuade, or sell something?
  • Do the authors/publishers make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Does this source present multiple points of view on the topic? Does it seem objective and impartial?
  • Is the information clearly biased in one way or another (e.g., political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases)? (Do a lateral search about the author/publisher of the information to help you decide if there's any possible bias.)
  • Is the language used meant to evoke a strong, emotional response?

(The CRAAP Test was developed by a librarian at California State University - Chico and modified by librarians at Duquesne University.)

Other Ways to Evaluate a Source

Confirmation Bias Explained