In recent years the spreading of misinformation online has become more sophisticated and prolific (Fielding, 2019).) Once a site is believed to be “credible,” all information on it is often trusted and taken at face value, and it becomes far more difficult to counter, even with accurate facts (Fielding 2019). Furthermore, in this age of fake news, it is difficult to distinguish between credible and misleading sources of information. One of the most widely used tools for evaluating information is the CRAAP test, which was developed by a librarian named Sarah Blakesley in 2004.
So what is CRAAP?
The CRAAP test stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose (Smith, 2017). It is a list of questions to assist in evaluating information. By applying the CRAAP test, one can filter out unreliable, outdated, or irrelevant information and focus on the most useful and trustworthy sources.
Criteria for evaluating information
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· Is the information current or out of date for your topic?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? Can they be verified?
· Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
· Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
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?
· Follow the money. Who stands to gain from this?
· Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
· Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
· What clues does the format give to the purpose, audience, quality?
Source: Source: California State University, Chico, Meriam Library. (2010). www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf
How can we apply CRAAP when teaching?
Our library databases comprise mainly of credible, peer-reviewed information, so when doing library instruction we can emphasize that aspect of CRAAP that highlights the importance of choosing information that is current and relevant. Unfortunately with websites like Google anyone with a webpage can create content, and one cannot filter results like we do with our databases. This is when we need to stress the importance of the CRAAP test.
Fielding, J. A. (2019). Rethinking CRAAP: Getting students thinking like fact-checkers in evaluating web sources. College & Research Libraries News 80(11): 620.Smith, M. D. 2017. Arming Students against Bad Information. Phi Delta Kappan, 99,,56-58.