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Primary and Secondary Sources

Evaluating secondary sources

It is important to think critically about all sources that you find.

The CRAAP test is a useful tool to evaluate secondary sources. The criteria outlined below isn’t meant to be definitive, but it can help to determine whether you should use a source and whether it fits your purpose.

The CRAAP Test

When was the information published or posted?

Consider:

  • How current is the information?

  • Do you need current information, older sources or both?

  • When was the resource last updated?

  • If there are references and links, how current are they


Does it relate to my topic and needs?

Consider:

  • Who is the intended audience?

  • Does it help me answer a question or solve a problem?

  • Will it lead to other information?

  • Does it provide evidence for or support my ideas?

  • What does it add to my work?


Who is the source of the information?

Consider:

  • Who is the author, publisher, source or sponsor of the information?

  • Are the authors' and/or publishers' affiliations clear?

  • What is their reason for publishing the material?

  • For websites, does the domain of the URL tell you anything about the author or source (.gov, .edu, .com, .org)


Is the information true and accurate?

Consider:

  • Where does the information come from?

  • Is the information supported by evidence?

  • Can that evidence be verified if necessary?

  • Are there spelling, grammar or other errors?

  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?


Why does the information exist?

Consider:

  • What is the purpose of the information?

  • Is the information factual or opinion?

  • Is the information biased?

  • Is the information to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?

  • Is the website sponsored or influenced by advertising revenue?


Evaluating primary sources

Primary sources also need to be evaluated. Similar to the CRAAP test, the author, purpose, and relevance of the source are important criteria to consider.

Click on the plus icons below to explore some questions you should ask yourself when evaluating a primary source.


Subjects: All guides, Study and research guides