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Evaluating Sources

Why evaluate your sources

You’re working on a research assignment, and you need to find some reliable sources to develop a thesis. You find some resources online that seem like they’ll be perfect for your assignment, but are they trustworthy?

There are several reasons you'll want to evaluate your sources before including them in your assignments.

  1. It will help you determine the trustworthiness or credibility of a source.
  2. Better sources = better research.
  3. Better sources shows the reader that you really understand your topic.
  4. Evaluating sources allows you to be selective in the sources you use.
  5. It's a critical part of the research process.

How to evaluate your sources

SIFT stands for stop, investigatefind, and trace.

This process is designed to be super quick (a few minutes or so, as compared to the more in-depth evaluation in the CRAAP method). This will help you quickly decide if the source is worth further evaluation using the CRAAP test. 

It will:

  • Enable you to determine if you should invest more time in the source

  • Be a useful strategy for everyday life (should you believe or share stuff you find online) and for academic research.

Learn more about the SIFT method here.

CRAAP stands for currencyrelevanceauthorityaccuracy, and purpose. This test is helpful in supplementing the SIFT method, as it will give you a more in-depth evaluation of the source.

A few important things to note:

  • It will help you determine whether you should include a source in your research or not.

  • It should not be used as a checklist, but rather as a way of interrogating a source, to evaluate its usefulness,

Learn more about the CRAAP test here.

Why use both methods to evaluate your sources

Here’s a helpful way to think about these two methods: SIFT is meant to help you make a quick decision about whether to spend time doing a more comprehensive evaluation. The CRAAP test will help you do that in-depth evaluation before you use the resource in your research.

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.