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Evaluating Your Sources

Tutorial for evaluating source material

SCRAAP That Source

The SCRAAP test is an easy way to remember how to evaluate sources in general. SCRAAP means...

 SCRAAP: Self-awareness, currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, purpose

REFERENCE
Allen, M. A. (2017). Information literacy and Confirmation Bias: You can lead a person to information, but can you make him think?

Self-Awareness

Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating information to keep a sense of self-awareness:

  • Do I already have an opinion or a desired result from the information I seek?
  • Will my background or personal belief impact how I evaluate the information?
  • Am I willing to attempt to remove my personal bias from my information evaluation process?
  • Am I willing to seek, evaluate, and use information that may differ from my personal beliefs?

Currency

Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating currency of information:

  • When was the information published or posted? How timely is the material?
  • Has it been updated? Have there been new versions or editions since this was published?
  • How important is the date to the subject material? How quickly does new research for this topic come out?
  • Does new research expand upon or replace old information for this topic?

Relevance

Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating the relevance of information:

  • Does the material fit with your topic? Does this source help answer your question? Does only part of it help?
  • Is it covering all aspects of your topic or only parts?
  • How detailed is the information? Is it too basic for your needs? Too advanced? Would you be comfortable citing it?
  • Who is the intended audience? Is it written at an appropriate level?

Authority

Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating the authority of information:

  • Who is the author? What can you find about them in the source itself or through a web search?
  • Is the author a professor or other expert? Does the author have a degree related to the topic? Has the author written on the topic previously? Is the author drawing from her own personal experience?
  • Has the information been reviewed in some way, such as by an editor or through peer review? Was it self-published or posted on a personal site? Where was it published?
  • Is there contact information for the author or publisher?

Accuracy

Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating the accuracy of information:

  • Is the information reliable, truthful, and correct? Is the spelling and grammar correct?
  • Have you looked at more than one source? Is there supporting evidence? Do multiple reports have similar information?
  • Does the author cite other sources? What does s/he cite? Are there still working reference links to sources on a website?
  • For studies, experiments, and other original research, does the author explain the method s/he used to find the results? Are there flaws in the methodology or analysis?

Purpose

Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating the purpose of information:

  • Why did the author publish this source? What is the author’s intent with the material? Is s/he looking to inform, teach, advocate, sell, or entertain?
  • Who is the intended audience? Is this designed for general readers or academic readers?
  • Was the material sponsored? What political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, personal or other perspectives does/could the author have?
  • Does the information seem impartial? What perspectives are not included within this resource, especially less privileged perspectives?

Self-Assessment