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ENG 111: The Pursuit of Happiness - Cambridge: Evaluate & Cite Your Sources

Evaluating Information

An essential part of the research process is looking critically at each source you find to ensure you are using information that is from a credible source, is accurate and relevant to your research topic.  A good way to approach evaluating information is to use the CRAAP test:

Currency:  The timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information or will older sources work as well?

Relevancy:  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)?

Authority:  The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?  examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

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

  • 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?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists

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

Evaluating Websites

Evaluating information you find on websites can be more challenging than print sources.  With no editorial or review process on the web, look critically at what you find to ensure it is credible, reliable and accurate.  For tips, watch this short video from the University of California at Irvine:

How to cite your sources

Use the Lehman Library Citation Guide to find examples for citing a variety of sources.

For more MLA help:

Avoid plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

• Using someone else's words, opinions or ideas without giving credit to the source;

• Using facts, statistics, graphics, drawings, or any other type of information that is not considered common knowledge without giving credit to the source.

• Paraphrasing someone else's words without giving credit to the source.

• Giving credit to the source" means naming, or citing, the source from which the borrowed material comes.

Plagiarizing is a violation of academic integrity.  It can lead to very serious consequences, ranging from failing an assignment to failing a class and/or other disciplinary measures.  The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your source in the format specified in your English 102 course.  When in doubt, ask your instructor or a librarian.

For more insight, go to our Avoiding Plagiarism guide.  This is an excellent resource with videos, online tutorials, even quizzes that will help you understand what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid.

Video

Plagiarism: How Not to Do It from Bainbridge College