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How to Search for Sources and Manage Them

How to develop a search strategy

What is the CRAAP Test?

Intoxilyzer test machine
Photo CC BY Oregon Department of Transit

CRAAP is a method for evaluating a source based on its own properties. It prompts you to check the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose of a publication.

Currency relates to the timeliness of the resource:

  • When was the information published?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or outdated?
  • Does currency matter on this topic, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are all the links working?

Relevance relates to the importance of the information to you:

  • Does the information relate to your research or answer your question?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level, i.e., not too simple or too advanced for your needs?
  • Have you looked at a range of other sources? This will help you decide whether the source you are using is relevant.
  • Are you comfortable citing this as a reputable source for your research paper?

Authority relates to the source of the information:

  • Who is the author/publisher/source?
  • What are their credentials/qualifications/affiliations?
  • Is the source trustworthy or qualified to write on the subject?
  • Is the source peer-reviewed or refereed?
  • Is there contact information and is it easy find out more about the author/organisation?

Accuracy relates to the reliability of the resource:

  • Is the information based on evidence, proven facts or statistical data?
  • Are there reliable references you can check (e.g., citations, footnotes, or a bibliography)?
  • Does the language or tone seem balanced, unbiased and free from errors (including syntax, spelling and grammar)?

Purpose relates to the reason the information exists:

  • What is the purpose of the information? (i.e. inform, argue, teach, sell, entertain, persuade)?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Is the information impartial or biased?
  • Does the information include advertising?