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Evaluating the Credibility of Your Sources

The Digital Resource Center for News Literacy promotes the use of the IM VA/IN technique when evaluating news. 


Independent sources are better than self-interested sources


Multiple sources are better than single sources


Sources who Verify with evidence are better than sources who assert


Authoritative/Informed sources are better than uninformed ones


Named sources are better than unnamed sources


What is CRAAP?

The CRAAP Test is a way to evaluate (vet) your sources to make sure you are using the most accurate and up to date information for your research. The world is full of information, and it can overwhelm a researcher, using the CRAAP test to see if the information is rightly valuable is the mark of a good scholar.

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
  • examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

"Paradoxically, too much information can contribute to our becoming less aware, especially if that information is narrow and biased" - Joseph Deitch, Elevate: An Essential Guide to Life

Bias (n.): an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgement: PREJUDICE [Source:]

Every news story is affected by the thoughts, opinions, and background of the interviewer, reporter, photographer, and the editor! To understand the full story and not be swept up in bias or propaganda, it is important to recognize the different types of bias: 

  • Bias by omission. Leaving one side out of an article, or a series of articles over a period of time. By living out information it can be used to support one belief and disprove another. This is the most common media bias and you will see this in news or media that focuses on one specific perspective (liberal vs. conservative, for example). 
    • How to avoid: Getting news from a variety of different sources can help you notice this bias. 
  • Bias by placement. Placement is when topics or stories are deemed more important than others according to the editor. They may be placed at the front of media, take up the most space, or will be the headline. 
    • How to avoid: Because it is the front page headline does not make it the most important news of the day or week. Pay attention to many stories around you. 
  • Bias by photos. By taking either flattering or unflattering pictures and changing the angle, the editor and photographer can convey to you the image they want the person or situation to be (whether positive or negative). 
    • How to avoid: Unless it is a graph or snapshot of an event that relates to the topic, pay little attention to the pictures. If you have to pay attention to the pictures, read the caption and ask yourself why that picture might have been chosen. 
  • Bias by statistics. Numbers may not lie, but the way you present statistics can definitely influence how people interpret your data. Skewing the axes or improperly labeling the graph can make information hard to understand.
    • How to avoid: Look up the research yourself and look at the raw data. Distrust any graph that isn't properly labeled and see who published or conducted the study. In the end, try to find unbiased datasets. 
  • Bias by word choice. Word and tone can influence the message and the story being presented. Using positive or negative words can change how you feel about something. A news reporter or commentator's tone of voice can also influence the viewer. 
    • How to avoid: Be aware of words that are clearly meant to cause an emotional rise from the reader or listener. Get your information and news from centrist or unbiased sources. 
  • Who created/paid for the message?
  • For what purpose was it made?
  • Who is the “target audience”?
  • What techniques are used to attract my attention & increase believability ?
  • Who or what might be omitted and why?
  • What do they want me to think or do?
  • How do I know what it means?
  • Where might I go to get more information?
  • Why is this message being sent?
  • Who stands to benefit from the message?
  • Who or what might be omitted and why?
  • How might different people interpret the message differently from me?
  • What can I do with the information I obtain from the message?
  • What do you know; not know; like to know?