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First-Year Composition

For all first-year composition classes: ENG 101, ENG 107, ENG 102, ENG 108, ENG 105.

Step Six


SUMMARY: See the Know Your SourcesIs It Scholarly?, and How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps handouts for suggestions on evaluating the quality of the books, articles, and online sources you located.
Watch on YouTube: How to find citations and references and The Problem with Fake News

If you have found too many or too few sources, you may need to narrow or broaden your topic. If you get stuck, ask a librarian for help.

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP test, developed by librarians at CSU Chico, can help you determine if your sources are credible and scholarly.


  • What year was this published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is this the most updated information for your topic?
  • Are the links functional? (for web resources)


  • Does this information connect to your topic?
  • Did it teach you something new about your topic or expand your knowledge?
  • Who is the intended audience? (other researchers, general public, etc.)
  • Is the information at an appropriate level for your needs? (i.e., not too elementary or advanced?)


  • What gives the authors the credibility to write about this topic?
  • Are they considered experts in their field?
  • Does the journal, website, or publisher tell you anything about the author's background?


  • Is this information supported by evidence or other citations?
  • What bias might there be in this text?
  • Has this information been been peer-reviewed?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?


  • Is this information intended to teach? To entertain? To tell? Is it fact or opinion?
  • 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?

Reading Sources Critically

Reading critically (summary from How to Read Academic Texts Critically)

  • Who is the author? What is his/her standing in the field?
  • What is the author’s purpose? Does he/she offer advice, make practical suggestions, solve a specific problem, critique or clarify?
  • Note the experts in the field: Are there specific names/labs that are frequently cited?
  • Pay attention to methodology: Is it sound? What testing procedures, subjects, materials were used?
  • Note conflicting theories, methodologies, and results: Are there any assumptions being made by most/some researchers?
  • Theories: Have they evolved overtime?
  • Evaluate and synthesize the findings and conclusions: How does this study contribute to your project?

Across the articles that you read, what are the:

  • Common/contested findings?
  • Important trends?
  • Influential theories?

Useful Sites

Reading Critically (Harvard University) -- This link addresses six reading habits imperative to successful academic habits.

How to read a Paper (University of Waterloo, Canada): This is an excellent paper that teaches you how to read an academic paper and how to determine if it is something to set aside or something to read deeply. It offers good advice to organize your literature for the Literature Review or just reading for classes.

Hours and Locations