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American Civil War HIS 303: Evaluating Sources

Features selective resources on The American Civil War

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  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?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. 

Advise On Searching For Primary Sources

You will get limited results if you try to search for "primary sources" in library databases since the Library of Congress does not use that subject heading.  Try searching these subject headings instead:

sources
personal narratives
documents
speeches
memoirs
diaries
documents
interviews
oral history
letters

You will get limited results searching for the word "autobiography" since the Library of Congress does not use that subject heading.  Try searching for "biography" but then look to make sure that the author is also listed as a subject. That is your clue that the person is writing about him or herself, and that is a primary source.

Antebellum Era Primary Sources