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A + Guide: No CRAAP! Evaluating sources and detecting bias: The CRAAP Test

Don't use any old crap from the Web! Use the CRAAP (and sometimes B) Test to help choose the best sources.

Pro Tips on Evaluating Web Sources

Check out this article, "In the context of web context: How to check out any Web page," by Scott Rosenberg, a professional web journalist and developer. 

Rosenberg kinda knows what he's talking about. He co-founded Salon (the news, culture, politics, and finance magazine) was the founder of (a site that allows people to report and correct errors in news coverage), was the editor of a non-profit green news website, and now contributes to the tech news and discussion site Backchannel.

What is CRAAP?

The CRAAP Test is an easy way to remember the key essentials to evaluating information. Each word stands for an important aspect to consider when researching. This method for evaluating information was developed by librarians at California State University, Chico.

  • Currency - The timeliness of the information 
  • Relevancy - The importance of the information for your needs 
  • Authority - The source of the information 
  • Accuracy - The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content  
  • Purpose - The reason the information exists 

You can also add in the evaluation of any Bias in the presentation of the information.

The CRAAP Test

Is your source CRAAP? Some questions to ask...

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • Does this source reflect the current thinking about or perception of this topic?
  • When was the information published (book, article, or report), posted, or created (website, video, podcast, image)?
  • Has the information been revised or updated recently?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • How does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?  For example, is it written for experts in this general field or subject or is it written for general readers?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • How does this source compare to the other sources you have found? Does it offer anything different? Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • What kind of documentation is this? Primary or secondary source? Factual/descriptive or analytic/synthetic? Does it do what I need it to do? What kind of information do I need to complete the task?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/creator/sponsor?

  • If there is a person (or persons) as author or creator, are they an expert on this topic? Click on the author’s name or google them. Also look for other authors or creators who have written, commented on, or addressed the same topic.
  • If there is an organization or company as the author or creator, does that organization or company have any background or relation to the information presented? Look for an “About Us”, “Who We Are”, or other pages to find out.
  • For websites, does the URL reveal anything about the authors/sponsors/creators of source? For example, it is a .edu (educational), or .gov (U.S. government) page or publication?

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content.

  • Is the information supported by evidence, citations, references, or links/ hyperlinks?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed? For example, a scholarly journal has a peer-review process before they publish and article. A book has an editor that checks the information they are publishing.
  • Do the other sources you’ve found support the information presented or provide alternative views of the topic?
  • Do the authors/sponsors/creators raise and address objections to their position?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform or teach? To sell? To entertain? To persuade?
  • What is the tone of the source? What kind of language or images is the author or creator using? Emotional? Angry? Calm?
  • Do the authors/sponsors/creators make their intentions or purpose clear? For a book or article, skim the Description or Abstract. For a website, look for an “About Us” type of link.
  • Do the authors/sponsors/creators or publisher identify this information as opinion or editorial?


A CRAAP Rubric

Credible or CRAAP? A Rubric to Evaluate Sources

CRAAP Rubric


* * * * *

Five Stars - Great Source!

* * * *

Four Stars - Still Good!


* * *

Three Stars - Meh.


* *

Two Stars - That’s CRAAP.



One Star - That’s really CRAAP!

Currency Reflects current thinking on the topic, or is a primary source from the era. May be a little outdated but could be core/original study on topic, is a primary source from the era, or could still reflect how thinking on topic has changed. May be a little outdated, or does not reflect current thinking on topic. Out of date or not updated recently. Out of date information.
Relevance Directly answers your research question AND provides data or specific information for your topic. Answers your research question, or provides data or specific information for your topic. Related to your topic, may have some useful background data or information. Has little relevance to your topic or provides very little information. Not related to topic or too short to provide any useful information.
Authority Written by an expert or person with extensive experience on the topic and published in a book, peer reviewed journal, or specialized website. Written by a person with some experience on the topic.Published on a general website, OR magazine or newspaper (online or in print). Written by a person with a little background on the topic.Published in a magazine or newspaper (online or in print), or on a general website. Has an author or organization behind it, but these are not experts on the topic. Published on a general website or in a general magazine. No author and website it’s published on is too general.
Accuracy Info supported by extensive evidence and trustworthy sources. Info supported by multiple other trustworthy sources or evidence. Info supported by some evidence, but the sources are not trustworthy. Very few or no sources listed as evidence. No references or sources for information.
Purpose If written to persuade, addresses or discusses other viewpoints. Uses unbiased, calm language. If opinion, it clearly labeled as such. To inform, or if written to persuade, acknowledges other viewpoints. Uses unbiased, calm language. If opinion, it clearly labeled as such. Written to educate or inform. If written to persuade, acknowledges other viewpoints. If opinion, it may not be labeled but author acknowledges it. Only opinion with no acknowledgment of other side, or author or organization is clearly biased. Uses inflammatory or offensive language.

More Ways to Evaluate

The CRAP Song