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Evaluating Information

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Evaluating information encourages you to think critically about the reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, appropriateness, opinion or bias of information sources.


It is your task to find the most relevant, accurate, authoritative and when appropriate current sources that meet your research needs.

Aim for a variety of sources when conducting research, and always aim to include research-based sources.

The grade you get in your assignment hangs on the quality of information you use:

  • Always check where the information is coming from
  • Always be critical
  • Always cite your sources

Test to Evaluate Information


Use the "CRAAP" Test criteria to evaluate the information that you find to ensure it's credible.

The test is a set of evaluation criteria that can be applied to websites, articles, and other information sources to help you determine if the information is reliable. If the information doesn't pass the test, you probably should not use it in your assignments, projects or research papers.

C is for... Currency 

The timeliness of the information

When was it published? Is the information too old? Does it have a date on it? When was it last updated? How important is it that you have up-to-date information?

With any source, consider when it was published or last updated. Even something that was once high-quality can now be out-of-date and inappropriate for some purposes. For example, if I needed current statistics on the average cost of college in Ireland, a source published in the 1990s would be out-of-date. However, if I were looking at the rise in college tuition over a period of time, a source from the 1990s maybe be suitable.


R is for... Relevance

The importance of the information for your requirements

Does the information relate to my topic? Does it fit your research or assignment? Have you looked at a variety of sources and chosen this one as a good one? Will your work be stronger if you include this information?


A is for... Authority

The source of the information

Who has published or written the information and what is the source of the information? Do you trust them? Is it easy to find out anything about them? Who was it written for?

A credible source often provides information about the author’s credentials. On occasion, however, the author’s credentials may not be recorded, and the publication itself can be the sign of quality.


A is for... Accuracy 

The reliability, truth and accuracy of the information

Where does the information come from? Is the information correct? Check with another source, if you are not sure to see if they say the same thing, can it be verified. Are the details correct? Is the information supported by evidence?


P is for... Purpose 

The reason the information exists

Why does the information exist? Is it trying to sell you something, persuade you or give you an opinion? Is the information presented fact? Opinion? Are there any biases?

Bias is an inaccurate or unfair presentation of information. While bias can sometimes be hard to spot, be aware that it can exist in any kind of source, including information you find through the library. In the academic publishing world, books and articles go through a rigorous editorial process in which editors evaluate the quality of the work. When it comes to journal articles, this process is called peer review. Peer reviewed articles are considered high quality, because the review process helps to sift out sources that are written by unqualified or biased authors.

The CRAAP Test was originally developed by the Meriam Library at California State University (2010). 


Other evaluation methods include:


When you are writing an academic research paper, assignment or project it is important to use credible sources. Your lecturer is going to expect you to use the best, most accurate, recent, and reliable information possible to back up your arguments and research. Using information that does not come from a credible source will not convince your lecturer that your work is conceivable or even correct.

What does it mean for a source to be “credible”? Why is it important to use these sources? And how can you tell if a source is credible? When we describe a source as “credible,” we’re essentially saying that the information is high quality and trustworthy. Credible sources, therefore, must be reliable sources that provide information that everyone can believe to be true. When you use high-quality sources to back up your points, you demonstrate your own credibility as a researcher.