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COMM 220 - Public Speaking: Evaluating Sources

Handout: The C.R.A.P. Test

C.R.A.P. is short for

C. Currency

R. Reliability

A. Authority

P. Purpose/Point of View

Applying the C.R.A.P. Test to a source, such as a book, article, or website,  is one way to evaluate the quality and value of it before you start writing your paper. The quality of your final research project is related to the quality of the sources you use. Check out this handout about the C.R.A.P. test.

Peer-Reviewed, Popular… or in Between?

Questions to Ask when Evaluating Articles

  Scholarly, Peer-reviewed, Professional Journals Popular Magazines
Examples Harvard Business Review; American Journal of Sociology; Modern Language Notes

Newsweek; Sports Illustrated; People; National Geographic; Wired

What is “the look”? Somber, serious with graphs and tables. Few, if any, pictures. Attractive, slick with lots of pictures and advertisements.
Who is the audience? Other professionals in the field or discipline. Language is scholarly and subject specific. General audience. Language relative to the topic. Articles can be short and lacking depth.
What is the purpose? To report original research or experimentation or persuade based on research.

To entertain, to sell, or to promote a viewpoint.

Who wrote the article? A scholar or researcher often with an institutional or academic affiliation.

Freelance writers, magazine staff or a well-known person not necessarily an expert in the field.

How carefully is it documented? Always has references, footnotes and/or a bibliography. Follows a style like APA or MLA. Rarely cites sources or makes broad references to sources.

The C.R.A.P. Test in action: Articles

This 3-minute video demonstrates using the C.R.A.P. test (Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose/Point of view) to evaluate articles from a database on the topic of barefoot running.

The C.R.A.P. Test in action: Websites

This 5-minute video demonstrates using the C.R.A.P. test (Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose/Point of view) to evaluate websites on the topic of performance enhancing drugs in sports.

Selecting Articles for Your Research

This 2-minute video created by a Yavapai College student shows you what to look for in an article citation.

Get the best articles from your search results!

A five-minute video showing how to find the best articles in your database search results.

Watch: "Wikiality"

The Colbert Report uses tongue-in-cheek humor to demonstrate Wikipedia's reliability problem.

The bottom line: Wikipedia is a good place to get started with a topic you know nothing about. Look at the index to the article to get ideas about possible subtopics you're interested in. Use the links and external references at the bottom of the page as jumping-off points for more reliable sources. Keyword search for definitions, formulas, and other basic facts. But if you're writing a paper, find another source to cite.

Focus on Evidence, Not Sources

When you know what evidence you need, you'll know which sources are right for your research assignment.

What Evidence do you Need?

This video will help you determine what sorts of evidence you need to support your thesis or answer your research question.

Types of Evidence

This video explains different types of evidence you can use in your research and how each is best used to make your case.