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River View Library Research Process: Choosing Your Sources

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Getting Started

Eventually, you'll come to a place in your research where you feel overloaded with sources. Oh, you're already there? Perfect! This is actually the place you want to be. When it comes to a reseach project, it's better to have too much than too little. At this stage in your project, you'll now want to take a hard look at your sources and decide what should stay and what should go. How do you choose? There are many factors to take into account when evaluating your sources: relevancy, author bias, publication date, level of scholarlship, type of source, etc. We'll explore all of these options below.

Types of Sources

In the course of your research, you'll run into a variety of sources; which are divided up into roughly two catagories:

Primary sources are taken at face value, but you'll have to look at your secondary sources with a critical eye!

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP test was originally developed to help researchers evaluate web sources, but the criteria work equally well for both print and electronic materials:

Currency
The timeliness of the information.

Relevance/Coverage
The depth and importance of the information.

Authority
The source of the information.

Accuracy
The reliability of the information.

Purpose/Objectivity
The possible bias present in the information.

For each item you have found, judge it using the above criteria. And ask yourself: Who wrote it? Does the author have any biases? What is the tone? Does the work cite other sources? How old is this material?

*the CRAAP test was developed at the Meriam Library at California State University Chico

For More Help...

A librarian can help you evaluate whether the information you have found is reliable.  If your professor wants you to find sources that are 'peer-reviewed', 'primary,' or 'scholarly,' a librarian will be able to help you interpret whether the information you have found meets those criteria.

A librarian can show you ways to evaluate whether the sources you have found are relevant to your topic.

A librarian can show you how to evaluate results from Google, and determine whether information in Wikipedia and other websites is reliable.