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PSY 101: Introduction to Psychology

Guide for Psychology students

Evaluating What You Find

Remember the CRAAP test from your first-year Inquiry class?

C - Currency: How recent was a source created/researched? Do you need items from a particular time period?

R - Relevance: Does the information in the source meet your needs? Is it the right type of source for your assignment?

A - Authority: What are the author’s credentials and expertise related to the topic?

A - Accuracy:

  • How does the source use data or craft arguments?
  • How do they back up their claims?
  • Are there factual inaccuracies?

P - Purpose: What is the intent of the author or sponsoring organization?


Relevance

There may be thousands of articles that are from the correct time period, that are accurate, written with authority, and published by reputable journals with an academic purpose - but that doesn't mean they are relevant to your topic or your assignment. 

Relevance might be the most tricky part of the CRAAP test.  It really depends on your specific assignment, topic, and research question.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What are the specific requirements of your assignment? If you aren't sure, review your assignment carefully and speak to your professor.
  • Does this source directly address your research question? If not, you can choose to change your research question, or you may need to find a different source. 
  • Does it provide necessary background information on your topic?
  • Is it from an appropriate field/discipline for your assignment? (Example, if you are supposed to write about the psychological aspect of a topic, the economic aspect of the same topic may or may not be relevant). 

Credibility

How can you be sure that your source is credible? This is where looking at the Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose of the source is important.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Does the author support their evidence with claims?
  • Does the author cite and incorporate other academic sources? 
  • Does the author acknowledge the other side? How do they characterize those who disagree with them?
  • What's the reputation of the publisher? Has the source gone through a peer-review process?
  • How was this work funded? Is there any disclosure of funding resources?
  • Can the information be verified/supported by other literature in the field? Are there any replication studies?

When in doubt, review your sources with your professor.

Evaluating Evidence: Things to Consider

  • Is the amount of evidence sufficient?
    • Did they study enough subjects?
    • Did they conduct it several times?
  • Is the evidence transferable?
    • Is the situation in the study one that resembles real life?
    • Is their experiment an extreme situation?
    • What variables might change the results?
  • Is the evidence related to the problem?
    • Are abstract terms defined (what is intelligence? What is love?)
    • How are the variables operationalized? What is being measured?
  • Are there reasons to believe that the author(s) or sponser(s) have an agenda?
  • How does this compare to other research? Are the findings similar? Different?
  • Might there be hidden (or confounding) variables?