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In this tutorial, you'll apply a simple method to determine whether a source is credible

To navigate this tutorial, use the menu in the top right corner or click on the arrow below to move forward. 

Before we get started though, a question:


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There are a variety of possible answers. Two of the most important are that using credible sources:

  • Demonstrates your knowledge about your topic and establishes and enhances your credibility.
  • Prevents the spread of misinformation by using inaccurate or outdated sources.

The CRAAP Test

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A simple method that you can use to evaluate sources is the CRAAP test. CRAAP is an acronym which summarizes five characteristics of a source:

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

The test can be used to evaluate many sources of information, including scholarly articles and websites.

The CRAAP Test

2 of 2Click on the image below to expand it and learn some of the questions asked when using CRAAP test: 

 Overview of the CRAAP Test

Applying the Test to Database Articles

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Now that you are familiar with the test let's apply it. 

Imagine you are writing a paper about the effects of using smartphones when driving. In the search box, type in smartphones and driv* 

By clicking on the PDF open the article "Drivers' Perceptions of Smartphone Applications for Real-Time Route Planning and Distracted Driving Prevention." (This may not be on the first page of search results.)

Take a few minutes to skim, then continue with the tutorial to walk through applying the CRAAP test to the article.

Applying the Test to Database Articles

2 of 6Currency

To evaluate for currency look at the date of publication and think critically about what it means for the value of the information in the source.

In this case the date of publication, March 2019, is clearly visible at the top of the article. Given that:

Applying the Test to Database Articles

3 of 6Relevance

To evaluate for relevance compare the source to the research question or topic and think critically how the information in the source can be used.

Given the topic of the effects of using smartphones when driving:

Applying the Test to Database Articles

4 of 6Authority

To evaluate for authority look at the author or publisher and think critically about whether their qualification enhance the credibility of the source.

In this case, the author is identified near the beginning of the paper as an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Qatar Transportation and Traffic Safety Center. With that information in mind:

Applying the Test to Database Articles

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To evaluate for accuracy check to see if the source has been reviewed by others and think critically about any evidence that the information in the source can be verified.

One piece of evidence might be the list of references on the final page. Another might be the data and graphs in the second half of the piece:

Applying the Test to Database Articles

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To evaluate for purpose think critically about why the source was written and what agenda or bias may be present as a result.

Based on your skim of the article:

Wrap Up

1 of 2Now bring all five factors together to make an overall assessment of this source:

Wrap Up

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This tutorial presented a simple model for evaluating the quality of a source of information. For a more in-depth examination of source credibility, consider reviewing some of our guides and videos about exploring authority and lateral reading.

If you aren't sure how to apply one of the elements of CRAAP to a source you found, or if you need a little more help finding the best source for an assignment, contact the reference desk at 410-837-4274 or email


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