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How To: Academic Research

Use the tabs below to explore the different aspects of conducting academic research.

Evaluating Sources

It is important to thoroughly evaluate where you are getting your information, whether that be a book, research article, website, news story, or any other source. This process allows you to understand what is behind the information being presented so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to accept or use the materials. These are the things to be looking for:

  • Authority
    Who is the source of the information? What are their qualifications? What are their affiliations? 
     
  • Accuracy
    Are sources given? How was it found? Can you verify statements using other sources?
     
  • Purpose
    What is the stated or implicit purpose? Entertainment, commercial use, a conversational forum, advertisement, propaganda, informative, advocacy, outreach, scholarly research, education, or something else?
     
  • Content
    What is being provided? Opinions, facts, subjective statements, objective statements, or perhaps a combination?
     
  • Bias
    Is there a bias to the information or viewpoints being presented? If so, does it impact the accuracy of the information?
     
  • Currency
    Look at how often the source is being updated; depending on the type of information, this may or may not be important.

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test is another way to look at information sources for evaluation purposes. 

  • Currency
    When was the information published? Is it current? Does it need to be current? 
     
  • Relevance
    How much does the information relate to the topic? Who is the intended audience and is it at a level appropriate for your needs?
     
  • Authority
    Who wrote/published the article? What are their credentials? Are they qualified?
     
  • Accuracy
    Where did the author get their information? Is it supported by evidence? Can it be verified using another source? Are there errors in spelling, grammar, etc.?
     
  • Purpose
    What is the purpose for the information being presented? Is it for educational purposes, researchers, entertainment, etc.? Does it appear to have bias or come from a source that may have bias? Is the information being presented a fact, opinion, or otherwise?

Evaluation Resources

Evaluating Information Sources

Evaluating Websites