When you search for information, you'll find lots of it... but is it good information?
You must determine that for yourself, and the CRAAP Test can help. The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.
Currency: the timeliness of the information
Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs
Authority: the source of the information
Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and
Purpose: the reason the information exists
Note: the CRAAP test was developed by librarians at CSU Chico.
Secondary sources analyze and interpret primary sources. These can be second-hand accounts of events or interpretations of sources. Here are some examples of secondary sources:
What are background or tertiary sources? Tertiary sources, also called background or reference sources are based completely on secondary sources and the research of others rather than on primary sources or the author's original research. They pull together existing information on a particular issue or event.
They are often excellent starting points for research projects because they provide helpful information that is easy to access and understand. A good reference or tertiary source can provide the following:
Note that these types of sources are not peer-reviewed. They are intended to provide you with enough of an understanding of and vocabulary for your topic to successfully find more in-depth, scholarly information (like peer-reviewed books and journal articles).
The table below shows which characteristics are more commonly associated with scholarly or popular sources. Both academic and popular sources can be appropriate for your research purposes, depending on your research question, but research assignments will often require you to consult primarily with scholarly materials.
|Authors:||Experts such as scientists, faculty, and historians||Generalists, including bloggers, staff writers, and journalists, not always attributed|
Journal Databases such as Academic Search Complete, CINAHL Plus, Legal Collection.
*This is NOT a conclusive list of databases*
|Wikipedia, CNN.com, About.com; People Magazine, USA Today; bestselling books; books from famous publishers like Penguin and Random House|
|Focus:||Specific and in-depth||Broad overviews|
|Language:||Dense; includes academic jargon||Easier to read; defines specialized terms|
|Format:||Almost always include: abstracts, literature reviews, methodologies, results, and conclusions||Varies|
|Citations:||Include bibliographies, citations, and footnotes that follow a particular academic style guide||No formal citations included; may or may not informally attribute sources in text|
|Before publication:||Evaluated by peers (other scholars)||Edited by in-house editors or not edited at all|
|Audience:||Specialists in the subject area: students, professors, and the author's peers||General readers; shouldn't require any particular background|
|Design:||Mostly text, with some tables and charts; very little photography; no advertising||Glossy images, attractive designs; photo illustrations, and advertising, are more common|
|Purpose:||Communicating research findings, education;||Entertainment; news|