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ENG 100 Information Literacy Tutorial: Select

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Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Information resources reflect their author's knowledge and experience on a topic. Authority is created through knowledge and/or experience, and depending on context, may come from a wide variety of sources. Expert researchers:

  • Recognize different types of experts (i.e. academic, professional, applied, local)
  • Use tools (like the CRAAP Test below) to determine credibility

Please visit the ARCL Frame "Authority is Constructed and Contextual" for more info

Evaluating Information

You will find more information on evaluating all types of information using the CRAAP Test below.

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Criteria

The CRAAP test criteria will help you to critically evaluate your sources.  Keep in mind that these are guidelines and not concrete rules.  In the end you will have to judge for yourself whether a source is appropriate for your needs and meets course requirements.

The CRAAP Test was developed by the Meriam Library, CSU Chico.

Authority

Authority

Learn about the authors or publishers of the sources you plan to use and their qualifications. Author credibility is important because you are entrusting them to serve as your expert witnesses on the topic. How do you know if the author is an expert on your topic?

  • Look for background or biographical information on the author, organization, or publisher 
  • Determine why they are considered an expert on the field, subject, or topic
  • Verify what you learn through other sources or by Googling them
  • If you cannot locate enough information about an individual author, evaluate the publication or organization instead

Currency

Currency

Currency is important because information changes over time.  You always want to use the most up-to-date information because old, superseded information could weaken your position or argument. How do you determine the timeliness of information?

  • Check the book or article publication date
  • When was the web site or web page created or last updated
  • Click the hypertext links to see if they are still working
  • What is the subject or field being researched?  
  • Health, medical, scientific, and technology subjects require more recent information not more than five years old

Accuracy

Accuracy

Using inaccurate sources in your argument will weaken and undermine your own credibility. How do you judge the accuracy of a source?

  • Look for any spelling, grammar, or typographical errors
  • Has the book or article been edited or undergone a peer-review process?  
  • Is the author or organization behind the source credible?  
  • Are facts and statements backed up by references, footnotes, or links to other sources that you can double-check on your own? 

Relevance

Relevance

Use information sources which meet your needs and support your ideas appropriately. Identify sources that you can readily understand and properly incorporate into your writing.  Do not include sources which are too technical and difficult to understand or are too simplistic and probably written for a much younger audience. How do you know if the source is relevant?

  • The information relates to your topic or answers your research question
  • The source fulfills assignment and instructor requirements
  • The targeted audience of the source is appropriate to your needs as a student
  • The language used is neither too simple nor too technical

Purpose

Purpose

All books, articles, videos, and web sites exist for a reason. It may be to entertain, sell, persuade, or educate.  Understanding the purpose behind a source of information is important when evaluating its usefulness. How do you determine the purpose of a source?

  • Does the source clearly state a reason for providing the information?

  • Judge if the information is fact, opinion, or propaganda - fact is better than opinion, opinion is better than propaganda

  • Is obvious bias (political, religious, cultural, etc.) present?  

  • Are alternate points of view presented?  

  • Web sites with .edu and .gov domains are generally there to educate and inform rather than to sell products or services like .com web sites
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