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Writing: Literature Reviews for Culminating Project

The CRAAP Test

Poop EmojiThe CRAAP Test is a useful guide to evaluating resources. CRAAP is an acronym for the general categories of criteria that can be used to evaluate information you find.



Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • 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?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

 Examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • 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 biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Evaluating Citations with CRAAP

Many times, you can determine whether or not an article will be useful just by examining the citation. First, make sure you are looking at the most detailed version of the citation/ abstract that is available to you.

Then dig for specifics:

  • Author. Can you determine the author’s affiliation or credentials? Is the author from a university or research organization?
  • Publication date.  When was this published?  Is currency important for your topic?
  • Length.  How long is the article?  2-3 pages does not provide in-depth coverage and is not likely to be a peer-reviewed, research article.
  • Abstract.  Is there an abstract?  Reading an abstract takes much less time than skimming the whole article – use it to help decide if this article will be useful!
  • Peer-review.  Is the article from a peer-reviewed (sometimes called “refereed”) journal?


Evaluate an article's usefulness through the citation.

Thanks to the Musselman Library at Gettysburg College for these tips.