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PR Capstone: Evaluating Your Sources

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test is an easy-to-remember way to evaluate your source. It will help you figure out if your source is good or it it's- well, you know...


Currency: When was this written/published?

Relevance: Does this help me with my research?

Authority: Who wrote this? What are the author's credentials?

Accuracy: Is this true? Does it seem reliable?

Purpose: Why was this written? Does the author have an agenda other than educating others?

Reading is not a spectator sport!

At this point in your college career, you are probably no stranger to reading and engaging with a text. And you've probably noticed that scholarly journal articles just aren't as engaging as works of fiction.

Well tough. But since we like the cut of your jib, here are some tips to make dealing with scholarly articles a little less painful:

  • If there's an abstract, read it.
  • Read the introduction and conclusion before deciding to read the rest.
  • If something's useful, you'll have to read it more than once!
  • Marginalia is your friend.
  • Give yourself enough time to read a bit every day. Don't try to read journal articles for 6 hours a day. Nope.

You should take notes while reading. Highlighting should be kept to a minimum (only very important phrases, terms, and information). Instead you should write things in your own words as you go and engage with articles similarly to how you would with any other text.






Uh oh


  • This information has a published date (and maybe even an edited/revised date)

  • This was published within the last 10 years (or it’s a historical source)

  • This information has a published date.

  • This was published within my lifetime or it is older but it seems very important to research on this topic.

  • This information was published a long time ago and is probably out of date compared to research on my  topic.

  • You don’t know when this was written/published


  • You will be able to use most of this information to help you analyze your question.

  • You will be able to use a decent chunk of this information, or this is a background source that is very relevant to your topic.

  • This is about a topic that is kinda similar to your topic. You might be able to use some of the background and introduction.

  • Upon closer examination, this is about something completely different from your topic


  • You can find the name of the author

  • The author is a known expert in this field (when you google their name, you can find other books/articles they’ve written on a similar topic.

  • The information has been through some type of review process

  • You can find the name of the author

  • The author is a known expert or they are writing directly about an experience they had.

  • You can find the name of the author.

  • This information is found on a .edu or .gov URL

  • You have no idea who the author is

  • This information is on a .com, .org, .net, .biz, etc. (and you didn’t find it through a library database)


  • This information seems accurate

  • The author cites other sources throughout

  • It seems like the author did original research or analyzed the original research of others

  • This information seems accurate.

  • The author respectfully acknowledges alternative viewpoints.

  • There are citations or links to other sites that seem to be of good quality.

  • The author links to a few other sources, but the quality of the other sources doesn’t seem great.

  • Some facts are vague and sketchy

  • There are no citations

  • There are multiple errors in spelling and grammar- like it wasn’t edited or revised


  • The author makes their purpose clear in the introduction/early in the chapter

  • This is to add to a larger discussion happening in the field

  • The author acknowledges their own biases /the potential shortcomings of the work

  • The author doesn’t articulate their purpose

  • This was written to inform  students and the general population about what experts are researching

  • This was written to persuade you to believe in a certain point of view.

  • You don’t know who the author is

  • This was written to sell you something or to convince you that the author is right.

Taking good notes

Use a note-taking system that works for you!

If you haven't found one yet- try this- it's what works for me:

Before you read

MLA Citation of source

Why am I reading this source/which research ?s do I think it will help answer:

While you read

(pg #)

  • notes   

    • more

    • notes

      • mhmm


  • next page’s notes

After you read

Short summary of article:

Author’s main points:


New evidence/arguments:

Questions I still have:

Relationship to my research questions:

Relationship to other articles I’ve read:

Is this useful to me?