Describe the components of the CRAAP analysis process
There are several methods that you can use when you’re evaluating sources. Perhaps the most common and well known is the CRAAP Analysis. The University of Santa Cruz library has a full breakdown of the CRAAP method. Below is a summary of the acronym CRAAP:
- Currency: How current is the source?
- Relevance: How important is the information, and has it been consistently presented?
- Authority: What is the source of the information?
- Accuracy: Judged against other sources (which themselves will need appropriate evaluation), how correct is the source?
- Purpose: What is the goal of the source—why was it created?
Watch this video for a recap of each of the components of the CRAAP method.
Depending on your organizational culture, Wikipedia might be sufficient as a source. Perspectives on the use of Wikipedia in your research vary; it all depends on the purpose of your writing. Not all of your business reports need to be lengthy and high caliber items supported by scholarly sources; you might find yourself writing a “quick” report within a day or two where your boss indicates that Wikipedia or some other introductory website or encyclopedia may be sufficient. It is important to point out that the report, while important, is not the end, it is simply a means to making better decisions. Direction from your organization’s decision-makers is key.
The Human Fund
If we return to Martha’s project, we can imagine her running each secondary source through a CRAAP analysis. Her sources are likely to be a mix of books, magazine articles, videos and other media. When considering what might make for a good source for Martha, we might use a reverse version of the CRAAP analysis to illustrate her analysis. Note how each word in the acronym is phrased as a question.
How current is the source?
Martha is not likely to use anything older than 3 to 5 years. There is no hard-and-fast rule here, but civic politics, dynamic life, technology and other features of human experience are likely to render anything too much older than 5 years less helpful.
How relevant is the information and has it been consistently presented?
Martha is likely to read or watch materials that are professionally designed. She will also pay attention to whether the source is applicable to her topic.
What is the source of the information?
Martha is likely to look at sources that have a reputation of doing work in the homeless community or have done good work in other similar areas of social work.
Judged against other sources (which themselves will need appropriate evaluation), how correct is the source?
The bottom line here is whether the material has been reviewed by other experts. For scholarly work, we refer to this as “peer-reviewed.” Clearly not all of Martha’s sources need to be peer-reviewed; however, the more of her sources that are, the better her information will be. Flinders University recommends asking the following questions:
- Is it scholarly?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Is that evidence referenced by the source?
- Has the content been peer-reviewed or edited by a publisher?
- Can the information be verified by other literature on the same topic?
- Is the tone objective and impartial?
- Is it free from obvious errors such as spelling or grammar?
- Is it written by a scholar with expertise in the field?
What is the goal of the source—why was it created?
This is where intention and bias are more clear. For professional scholarly work, you will often see a note at the end of the document indicating any funding or entities that supported the work. This is there to inform the reader of external influences on the material. A professional author will work to limit his or her bias, or they will use an alternative technique, which is to discuss their bias in their work, and make their agenda clear to the reader.
- Ibid. ↵