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Resources to help you choose reliable sources for research

Identifying Quality Sources

When identifying quality sources, you can use SIFT or you can use CRAAP. Whatever you do, choose wisely and thoughtfully. Pick the websites and sources you use because they are reliable. Don't just click on the first one that reaches you. Be able to answer the question: "I chose this source instead of another one because..."


Investigate a Web Source in Four Moves

STOP - before you click it, read it, share it, or react, just stop. Ask yourself "Do I know this website?" "Does it have a good reputation?" If you're not sure, move on to the next steps.

INVESTIGATE THE SOURCE - do an internet search on the domain you just found. Look it up in Wikipedia. Read about the source. Are they legit? Are they biased? Do they have an agenda? Was that video on the benefits of milk consumption put out by the dairy industry? You need to know the answers to these questions before you consume the content. Can't find anything about the site? Don't read it. 

FIND BETTER COVERAGE - don't just go to the websites that found you. Look for trusted reporting. Look for experts in the field. Ask a librarian or a teacher for advice or trusted sources.

TRACE CLAIMS TO ORIGINAL CONTEXT - if a website quotes another article or website, find the original quote or claim or article. Are you watching the complete video? Are you seeing the entire photo?

From Mike Caulfield


Some things to consider in evaluating the quality of research sources:

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • How recent is the information?
  • Can you locate a date when the page(s) were written/created/updated?
  • Based on your topic, is the information current enough?

Reliability: importance of the information

  • What kind of information is included in the Web site?
  • Is the content primarily fact, or opinion? Is the information balanced, or biased?
  • Does the author provide references for quotations and data?
  • If there are links, do they work?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Can you determine who the author/creator is? is there a way to contact them?
  • What are their credentials (education, affiliation, experience, etc.)?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the site? Are they reputable?

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information

  • Is it accurate? Is it supported by evidence?
  • Is the information balanced or biased?
  • Was it peer-reviewed?
  • Can you verify the information from another reliable source?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?
  • Can you determine who the author/creator is? is there a way to contact them?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What's the intent of the Web site (to persuade, to sell you something, etc.)?
  • What is the domain (.edu, .org, .com, etc.)? 
  • Are there ads on the Web site?
  • How do they relate to the topic being covered (e.g., an ad for ammunition next to an article about firearms legislation)?
  • Is the author presenting fact, or opinion? Who might benefit from a reader believing this Web site?
  • Based on the writing style, who is the intended audience?

The CRAAP Test was developed by librarians at California State University, Chico.

Crash Course Navigating Digital Information

In 10 episodes, John Green will teach you how to navigate the internet! We’ve partnered with MediaWise, The Poynter Institute, and The Stanford History Education Group to develop this curriculum of hands-on skills to help you evaluate the information you read online.

Websites for Fact Checking

Books in the SP Library