Evaluating Information Sources: The CRAAP Test
No, CRAAP is spelled correctly here. CRAAP is an acronym. Spelled out it's
CRAAP = Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose
The CRAAP test was developed by the by the Meriam Library of the California State University (Chico), to check the reliability of sources and is widely used, partly because the acronym is so memorable.
Breaking down the component parts:
How up-to-date is the website? Ask:
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Is it important to have current information, or will older sources work as well?
- Are all the links working?
Is the information on the site importance to your requirements? Ask:
- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
- Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
Who is providing the information? Ask:
- Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
- What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
- Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
- Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
- Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
Is the content reliable? Ask:
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
Wha is the point of the page? Ask:
- What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
- Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
The CRAAP test is very good at analysing the content of one website, but web content is dynamic; once a site passes a CRAAP test, you're more inclined to accept new information on that site as valid, because you think that site is credible. Suppose you have a friend named Bob. In the past Bob has told you things that you know to be true. You believe Bob; he has credibility. But what if Bob tells you something that isn't true and you don't know that? Because Bob has been right in the past, you're more likely to believe him in the future.
While each of the CRAAP test's criteria have value and it's useful, the CRAAP test itself is flawed because it doesn't look at information in a wider context.