Research is an organized investigation into and study of resources in order to ..

  • learn more about particular topics

  • construct arguments

  • explain concepts

  • describe

In the age of the World Wide Web, finding information is easy. Finding the right information, though, not so much. So, how do we identify sources of information that are trustworthy? The answer is CRAP! No, not that kind! I mean, the C.R.A.P. test.

C.R.A.P. is an acronym that stands for Currency, Relevancy, Authority, and Purpose. Use the following checklist to help you identify trustworthy sources of information for any online research you are engaged in.

C.R.A.P. Test

Currency: Is the information recent enough for your topic/field of research?
  • Was it published in the last ... years or around the time of an original event? (Number of years depends on your teacher)

Relevancy: Does the information apply to your topic?
  • Is it a primary or secondary source?
  • How much of the information applies to your topic?
  • Is the information general or detailed, balanced or biased (one-sided)?

Authority: Who authored this information? Are they a trustworthy source of information?
  • Was it a single person or several people?
  • Was it a corporation or organization?
  • Are their credentials (qualifications) provided?
  • Are methods or references provided?
  • Was it peer-reviewed, or checked out by other credible (believable) sources?

The domain designators below are generally reliable and credible sources.

Educational Institution
Besides the institution's official web pages, students or faculty members can also publish personal pages on these web sites.
This designation is used for any type of organization, including nonprofit organizations.
Originally only for the federal government, .gov is now used for any level of government. These sites are used to publish tax forms, census information, legislation, and other government news or information.

Purpose: Why was this written?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information intended to inform, persuade, sell, or entertain?
  • Is this a first-hand account of an event or research?
  • Does the author have a vested (protected) interest in the topic?

Print the rubric below so you can use it as a checklist for your sources.

Practice using the C.R.A.P. rubric by comparing two different sources of information on the same topic. Topics and sources are provided on the webpage linked to the "Apply the CRAP Test" link.

Apply the CRAP Test

See the Web Page "Digital Chalk" for links to quick online tools for citations and bibliographies

Digital Chalk