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FAKE NEWS vs. REAL NEWS: How to Determine the Reliability of Sources: Evaluating Information

CRAAP Test

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  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?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?

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 level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • 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 credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

  •      examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), 
                   .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • 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 biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their 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?

Ask A Librarian

If you need help don't forget to ask a librarian at any campus for help!

Watch for Red Flags!

Scan your online resources for easy-to-spot red flags
These can help you determine whether a website is credible enough to use in a research paper.

  • Website does not look professionally designed
  • Lack of citations or links to verifiable information
  • No author/sponsoring organization is listed, either on the main page or in an 'About Us' section
  • The page's purpose is to sell something (almost all .com)
  • There is a lot of advertising on the page
  • The publisher is promoting a specific point of view

Evaluating Websites