It used to be that publishing your work was relatively difficult. Today anyone can publish their work or thoughts by creating a blog or website, or even self-publishing an entire book. This makes knowing how to evaluate a source increasingly important.
There are a number of ways to evaluate sources but most techniques address similar concerns. We recommend using the CRAAP test as it is an easy acronym to remember.
Currency - the timeliness of the source
Relevance - the ability of the source to meet your needs
Accuracy - the information within the source is correct
Authority - the qualifications of the author to write about a subject, and the reputation of the publisher or sponsor
Purpose - the reason the source was created
You can use the worksheet below to help determine the credibility of your source. Start by investigating the source you have. This is called Vertical Reading. You can probably answer many of the questions brought up by CRAAP doing this, such as currency or relevance, but not all of them. To really figure out if you have a good source, you should do some Lateral reading. This means you are going to explore outside of the source you are looking at. Sounds time consuming? It isn't really. All you need to do is open a few tabs on your browser. Can you corroborate any of the claims made in your source with other trusted and reliable sources (Accuracy)? Authority is also difficult to establish without searching outside of your source.
One technique incorporating lateral reading is called 4 moves and a habit. The Habit is to check yourself. What reaction are you having to this information? A lot of online content is designed to inflame emotion. If you are angry - why? If you think something is true, is it because it is what you want to hear? Continue with the 4 moves to figure out if this is a good source.
Another acronym was developed for 4 moves and a habit. You may find SIFT easier to remember.
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