Evaluating Websites and Other Non-scholarly Sources

Articles from websites, newspapers, magazines, trade journals, or blog posts can all be good sources if carefully evaluated. To evaluate non-scholarly sources, you can use the CRAAP test:

Currency

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information up to date or have there been any major changes affecting the topic since the content was published?
  • Are there broken links?

Relevance

  • Does the publication answer your questions or provide information relevant to your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience — General readers? Experts? Professionals in a particular field?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level?
  • Have you looked at multiple sources?

Authority

  • Is there an author listed? Be wary of content published with no author credits.
  • What are the author’s qualifications — do they have any advance degrees in the field or sponsoring institutions?

Accuracy

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is it supported by evidence?
  • Does the author provide a reference list or links to original research or primary source documents?
  • Do they name their sources?
  • Can you verify the information using other sources? 

Purpose

  • Why was this information published or posted?
  • Is the purpose of the publication educational, commercial or political?
  • Look out for sensationalist or alarmist titles or claims.
  • Does the author present multiple sides of an issue in a neutral tone, or is there a particular viewpoint? 
  • If published by an organization, is it non-profit or for-profit? Are they selling something? Do they have a particular agenda such as a think-tank or Political Action Committee?

For more in depth evaluation of online sources, use our Website Evaluation Checklist or Evaluate an Online Journal Checklist.