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A Guide to Legal Research: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources using the CRAAP test

CRAAP TEST WORKSHEET 

Use the following worksheet to help you evaluate your sources. Score each of the main categories 1 to 10 (1 = Worst; 10 = Best). Check your scores with the key at the bottom.

Currency: the timeliness of the information . . . . . . . . _____

  • When was the information published or posted? 
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs .... _____

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information . . . . . . . . _____

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? For example:
    • .com (commercial)
    • .edu (educational)
    • .gov (U.S. government)
    • .org (nonprofit organization)
    • .net (network)

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

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists . . . . . . . _____

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

45-50 Excellent; 40-44 Good; 35-39 Average; 30-34 Borderline Acceptable; Below 30 Unacceptable

Note: all credit for the CRAAP test goes to the librarians who developed it at Meriam Library at CSU Chico. 

Congressional Information: Past & Present

Current Members of Congress (Congress.gov)

Congressional Directory (FDsys) Includes short biographies of each member of the Senate & House; Committee memberships, terms of service, administrative assistants and/or secretaries, & room & telephone numbers for Members of Congress; Lists officials of the courts, military establishments, & Federal departments & agencies, including D.C. government officials, governors, foreign diplomats, & members of the press.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress Historical directory, dating from 1774 to present, of biographical information about members of Congress.

U.S. Congress (Project Vote Smart) Searchable database about members of Congress

Congressional Pictoral Directory 105th Congress to Present, including the New Member Pictoral Directory

Congress.org Congressional Directory Look up your lawmakers and track their votes.

Status of Legislation and Legislative Histories

Searchable database of the status and legislative histories of bills for the current Congress back to the 93rd Congress (1973-1974).
Searchable database of legislative histories, beginning with the 98th Congress (1983-84)

Committee Hearings & House/Senate Reports

Congressional Hearings (Govinfo.gov) Searchable database of a hearings, beginning with the 99th Congress (1985-86)

Floor Proceedings

Congressional Record -- Daily (Govinfo.gov) Daily record 1994-present. Includes the "Daily Digest" which summarizes each day's floor and committee activities.

Congressional Record -- 1973 to present (Congress.gov)The Congressional Record (101st Congress to present) can be browsed or searched one congress at a time.

Congressional Record -- Bound Edition (Govinfo.gov)The Congressional Record (from 1873) can be browsed by date or searched as a collection.

Congressional Globe Predecessor to the Congressional Record. Covers 1833-1873. Contains summaries until the 32nd Congress (1851-1853) when the text became almost a transcript. (In Jerome Library, Print & Microfilm, X72-X179)

Register of Debates Predecessor to the Congressional Record. Provides summaries of Congressional proceedings, 1824-1837. (In Jerome Library, X43-X71)

Annals of Congress Predecessor to the Congressional Record. Covers 1789 - 1824, 1st - 18th Congress. Paraphrased proceedings of Congress. (In Jerome Library, print & microcard, X1-X42)‚Äč

House Journal (Govinfo.gov) A record of the proceedings of each legislative day in the House of Representatives

Senate Journal The minutes of the actions on the Senate floor.

Presidential Statements

Compilation of Presidential Documents (Govinfo.gov) Searchable full text version of documents that includes statements, messages and other Presidential materials, 1993 to present.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (FDsys) Presidential writings, addresses, and remarks of a public nature, 1991 forward.

U.S. Serial Set (ProQuest Congressional) Historically, the U.S. Serial Set has included a broad miscellany of executive branch publications, varying considerably over the years. In some 19th-century Congresses it formed over half the Set, but in recent decades it has been quite small.