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USNA 288A - Facts from Fictions

Created for course taught by Prof. Malcah Effron in Spring 2015 & 2016

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Reminder: Online Access

  • Library resources require going through CWRU Single Sign-On.
  • The best method is to follow links from the library website.
  • When logged in and a browser window is not closed, access should continue from resource to resource.
  • Remember to close your browser when done.

Some Tests for Helping You Evaluate Sources

The CRAAP Test1 (from the Meriam Library, California State University, Chico) can be applied to any kind of source, including websites. This test helps you evaluate a source in terms of its: 

  • Currency: the timeliness of the information, relative to your needs
  • Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs
  • Authority: the source of the information, including both its author/creator and publisher/host, and why they might be credible (e.g., subject expertise, credentials, availability of contact information) 
  • Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content (as determined by the presence of evidence to support claims, citation of other sources, corroboration with other sources, etc.)
  • Purpose: the reason the information exists (e.g., to inform, to persuade, to entertain, etc.)

A handy web application by Imagine Easy2 allows you to evaluate an online source using the CRAAP Test.


Another test you might use is the "6 Questions Test" (from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries). When you encounter a source, ask yourself:
  • Who created the page/site? Look for an "About Us"—what are the qualifications of the author?
  • What is the page/site about? Does it have the information you need?
  • Where is the information coming from? Check the URL/domain; look up the domain owner
  • When was the site created/updated? Is the date important for the timeliness of the content?
  • Why is the site on the web? Look for purpose, mission, and the presence of advertisements. Is the site being persuasive?
  • How accurate or credible is the page? Are there obvious errors on page? Can I verify the information using another source? How would I cite this source?

Exercise: Part 1

Try finding a source for your proposal on the open web using a basic search engine, or by following a link from Wikipedia. Evaluate it using the CRAAP Test by filling in the first page of this form.

CWRU Libraries Discovery

Help with Citing Your Sources