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Evaluate Your Sources

Don't be caught using unreliable information. Learn to use the CRAAP Test to identify credible sources

Authority Refers to the Expertise of the Author


Some Questions to Ask:  Where to Look for Answers:
  • Who is responsible for this content? 
  • Does the author have the relevant expertise on the topic about which he/she is writing? 
  • What makes this author an expert on this topic? 
  • Is this information an editorial (opinion piece) or factual? 

Look for links on a Web site that say: 

  • About or About Us 
  • Mission Statement 
  • What we do 
  • Who we are
  • Use Lateral Reading to find information about the source and/or author from other sources.


Who is the Author?

You can feel pretty confident that books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's databases are reliable and credible because you know those have gone through a traditional editorial process; someone or some group has checked the author's credentials and all the facts and arguments the author made and then deemed them suitable for publishing. In other sources of information, especially on the Web, that is not the case. Most credible articles on the Web will include the author’s name. You can often Google the name to learn more about the person and their qualifications. Remember that an organization can also act as an author or publisher.



Look for Information About the Author

On Web sites, you’ll often find information about the author or content creator in a section called About, About Us, or Mission. Train yourself to look for this information on any document or site you consider using for research. If you cannot find an About Us page or similar information about the person or organization responsible for the content of the site, then the source is not appropriate for your research project.



What Are Others Saying About the Author

Lateral reading is a powerful strategy that fact checkers use to evaluate information online. In addition to reading your web document, you jump out onto the web to see what others are saying about the site and its authors. Watch the video below for an introduction to lateral reading so that you can recognize false or misleading information.


Look for Clues in the URL

You can also find clues about who is responsible for the content in a site’s URL. For example, you can tell that the example below is a Web site that is hosted and sponsored by an organization (.org). The source is a Web page about higher education on the Web site of the larger organization. If you want to find out more about the organization, you can go back to the root of this URL ( ) and read the About or Mission information for this organization.