Evaluating Researched Sources

When doing research, use the same analytical questions that you ask about any text to determine the value of the researched text’s content and logic:

  • Is the claim believable? 
  • Is the underlying assumption (warrant) acceptable?
  • Is the supporting evidence relevant, sufficient, and accurate?
  • Has the author cited sources or in some way made it possible for the reader to access evidence used?
  • Are there different opinions and perspectives included, especially when there are multiple opinions on an issue?
  • Does the author avoid selective use of evidence or other types of manipulation of data?
  • Does the offer evidence respectfully, using unbiased language?
  • Is there an over-reliance on emotional appeals?

Additionally, you need to evaluate a researched text for the following characteristics, especially when you intend to read and use that text as a source for a research paper:

  • the text contains facts/opinions and illustrations that relate to your main idea
  • the text was written by someone knowledgeable in the field
  • the text is published on a peer-reviewed website or in a scholarly journal, if that type of information is appropriate to your research
  • the author carefully cites the sources they used
  • the text presents current information, if currency is important to your main idea

The video below discusses how to evaluate information in researched texts.

One way of synthesizing the various questions to evaluate researched sources is the CRAAP analysis, an acronym that stands for

  • Currency: the timeliness of the information, as appropriate to your focus.
  • Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs
  • Authority: the source of the information
  • Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information
  • Purpose: the reason the information exists

The following video offers a good explanation of these points of analysis.


try it

For the article “Forget Shorter Showers” by Derrick Jensen, which of the following sources would be useful to add to the article in order to validate some of the statistical information?  Choose all that apply.

  1. Our World in Data page on Water Use and Stress https://ourworldindata.org/water-use-stress
  2. How We Use Water https://www.epa.gov/watersense/how-we-use-water
  3. Water Uses – FAO http://www.fao.org/aquastat/en/overview/methodology/water-use
  4. America Uses 322 billion gallons of water each day https://ensia.com/articles/water-use/

Additional Resources

  • ESC Research Skills Tutorial – See Chapter 5: Evaluating Information Sources
  • Evaluating Resources – from the University of California, Berkeley, offers a good, quick checklist of questions to ask in order to evaluate the quality and usability of researched sources