Evaluating Information: Tips, Fake News and More

How can you tell what's real and what's false news? This guide will help.

Evaluating Information Resources -- For School

Information needs can take a lot of different forms. This page focuses on information needs you'll  face in your classes, like needing sources for a paper or presentation. Information used in academic settings traditionally come from scholarly journals and books, accessed through our library's databases.

The most important tool on this page is the CRAAP or TRAAP test, discussed below.

TRAAP Test: Evaluating Information

Who’s responsible for checking that the information in a Web document (including news sites) is accurate? You! 

Nobody else oversees the accuracy of billions of World Wide Web documents. Many websites offer quick, convenient, accurate information, but many do not. With no overall standards for quality, websites may contain information which may be inaccurate, outdated or offensive to you. 

These guidelines will help you evaluate any information, on the Web or elsewhere:

Author:

  • Who is the author, producer or source? Is the author listed?
  • What is the authority of the author? Are any credentials or background given?
  • Is the author an expert on this particular topic?
  • Is contact information for the author available?
  • If from an organization, is their background given? Is it a group’s official site?

Date and Currency:

  • When was the information produced?
  • When was the information last updated?
  • Are the links up-to-date, or do they lead to “dead ends”?
  • For the particular subject, does it matter if the information is the latest?

Bias/Objectivity:

  • Does the information offer facts or opinions? How can you tell the difference between the two?
  • Are political, cultural or other biases evident? Does it offer all viewpoints?
  • Is the author trying to sell a product or have other vested interests?
  • Is it comprehensive? What aspects of the topic does it cover?

Content:

  • What is the purpose of the resource? What does it contain?
  • Did you choose to use the site because it appeared at the top of your search results list, or because you decided it was relevant?
  • Is it accurate? Does it correspond to other facts you know about the topic?
  • When did the site start? (If not dated, be wary.)
  • Who is the audience? Does it match your level of familiarity with the topic?
  • Is the information clearly organized? Is it designed well?
  • Are the information sources cited in a bibliography?
  • Does the information offer primary (original) research, or is it derived or compiled from other information?
  • What other resources (both print and non-print) are available in this area?  

Evaluating Sources Video

Evaluating Information and Fact-checking: More Resources