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Cannabis Science, Therapeutics and Policy: Evaluating Your Sources

A guide to resources on cannabis science and therapeutics available through the Harper College Library

Evaluating Sources Using the CRAAP Test

After you find a source, how do you know you can trust the information in the source?  Should you use the source to help you write your paper?  To answer these questions, evaluate your source using the CRAAP test.  CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose.  

Evaluating your source using the CRAAP test

    • Does the source you found fit within a range of what you'd consider to be a reasonable publication date? 
    • Tip: Keep in mind that some topics such as medicinal treatment for ear infections typically require the most up to date information while other topics such as the history of basketball do not.  
    • Is the information in the source relevant to your research topic?   
    • Tip: Sometimes you slightly change your research question or topic based on the information that you find.  If you're changing your research question or topic, make sure that your sources are relevant to that new question or topic.  
    • Who created the source and is that person qualified to write about the topic? 
    • Tip: This is challenging to answer, but sometimes you'll see an author biography written in a source or you'll see the author's credentials listed or you'll trust the information based on the publisher or website because you're assuming the publisher or website vetted the author.  Beware that .org websites are not all quality sources.  Also, remember that an authority in one topic/subject isn't necessarily an authority in other topics/subjects.     
    • Are there indications that the information in the source are or are not accurate? 
    • Tip: Spelling and grammar errors, biased language and a lack of evidence to support claims are indications of low accuracy.  Verifying the information in other sources, unbiased language, and evidence to support claims (using citations as well) are indicators of high accuracy.  
    • Was the source created to inform, to persuade, to sell etc? 
    • Tip: In academia you're typically looking for sources that seek to inform. If a source is meant to inform but it's a short source, there may be key information that you'd still need to know, and so be sure to find many sources and read them.  Read a lot and keep reading!  Be aware that sometimes an author cherry picks information in an attempt to persuade, and you'll be able to get a sense of this by reading other sources.      

After evaluating your source with the CRAAP test, you may decide not to use that source when writing your paper.  Remember, some sources are not as high of quality as others.  If you're having trouble finding quality sources, please reach out to a librarian.  

Outside of your academic studies you can also use this CRAAP test.  If you're looking for an authentic recipe, trying to learn a new skill, fixing your car etc you'll need to find quality information.  

The above CRAAP test is adapted from the following source created by California State University - Chico.