Never has it been easier to find information! One quick search on Google, and you have sources for your research. Or do you?
Before you start citing, you'll want to evaluate each source. Evaluating sources helps lend credibility to your arguments, and all sources, even if they're from the library, need to be evaluated to ensure that they're right for the work you're doing. For example, the library has newspapers, and newspapers have opinion pieces and editorials. These might be acceptable resources if you're reviewing opinions about a topic, but they are unreliable sources to cite as facts.
CRAAP is a humorous and attention-grabbing acronym for a real thing! (We didn't make it up.) Use the CRAAP method to determine if a source is a good choice to use in your research. Ask yourself the questions below to evaluate the currency, relevancy, accuracy, authority, and purpose of any source.
Are you thinking about using an article that you found on the web outside of the library? There are great resources available on the web, but in addition to the CRAAP method questions, there are a few others that you need to ask yourself:
Have a question or need help?
If an article is from a peer-reviewed journal, that's a good indication that it has a high level of accuracy and authority. Check out our guide on locating peer-reviewed materials:
Wikipedia may be a convenient source for quick information, and it's also useful for finding other references on a topic. However, it's not a reliable source for academic research. Wikipedia allows anyone to edit an entry and, by its own admission, is written largely by amateurs.