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ENG 201: Evaluating Sources

Continuum of Credibility

The continuum of credibility stretches from very skeptical sources such as blogs and personal websites to much less skeptical sources like book by experts and peer reviewed journals

Is it CRAP?

Use the CRAP Test to evaluate sources you find:


  • How recent is the information?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • If the information is from a website, when was the site last updated?


  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is is balanced?
  • Is it provided for a hobbiest, for entertainment, or for a serious audience?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?


  • Who are the authors or creators?
  • What are their credentials? Can you find something out about them in another place?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor?
  • Are they reputable?
  • What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information?
  • If it's from a website, does it have advertisements?

Purpose/Point of View

  • Is this fact or opinion?
  • Is it biased? Can you still use the information, even if you know there is bias?
  • Is the the site trying to sell you something, convert you to something or make you vote for someone?

Popular vs. Scholarly

This very good video from CSUCB's Pfau Library will help explain the difference between scholarly and popular articles and how to tell which you are looking at.

*Pro Tip: Just as with your own writing, audience is critical to evaluation. When a noted expert is authoring a newspaper or magazine article, they are anticipating a popular audience and write accordingly. So even though you may have the most brilliant thinker of all-time on your topic writing a piece, it is only "scholarly" if their audience is other scholars.