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Evaluating Sources

Lateral Reading

This short video from Citizen Literacy introduces the concept of lateral reading, a technique used by professional fact checkers to evaluate online sources quickly.

Citizen Literacy was created by Robert Detmering, Amber Willenborg, and Terri Holtze for University of Louisville Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

SIFT: The Four Moves

CRAAP Test

The CRAAP test is one technique for evaluating sources. Use it in combination with other evaluation methods such as lateral reading and SIFT.

Currency 

  • How old is the source? Can you find the date the information was created?
  • How important is currency for your research topic?
  • If the source is a webpage, are there any broken links on the page? If so, that might mean the page is no longer maintained.

Relevancy or Usefulness

  • Does the information you find have anything to do with your topic?
  • What are you trying to accomplish with the information you find? For example, are you writing a research paper, looking for a quick fact or deciding which classes to take? Does the information you find help you do that?
    Why or why not?

Authority

  • Who is responsible for the information? Is it a person? What do you know about that person's qualifications or experience?
  • Is the information produced by an organized group of people such as an advocacy group or government agency? What do you know about that group? 
  • If it's a website, is it a .com, .edu, .gov or other? 

Accuracy

  • Can you identify any errors of fact?
  • Does the page list any sources or clues about where the information came from? Can you verify those sources?

Purpose

  • What is the source trying to do? Is it trying to inform, entertain or express an opinion?
  • What tone does the author use to accomplish this?  For example, is the tone humorous, sarcastic, concerned, angry, informative, or neutral?