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Writing 105 (Downey): Evaluating Sources

Grammar & Style

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

NCSU Libraries (3:14)


You can use the CRAAP (currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose) as a quick way to check a source but note that evaluation shouldn't just meet a checklist. It also matters how you intend to use a source.

  • C(urrency): When was the information published or posted?
  • R(elevance): Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • A(uthority): Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • A(ccuracy): Where does the information come from?
  • P(urpose): What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?

Adapted from Meriam Library, CSU Chico, "Evaluating Sources--Applying the CRAAP Test."


It is also helpful to think about how to use a source when evaluating. Using BEAM (background, exhibit, argument, and method) can be helpful in determining a source's usefulness.

  • B(ackground): Can this source be used to provide general information to explain the topic?
    • For example, the use of a Wikipedia page on the Pledge of Allegiance can be used to explain court cases related to the Pledge, as well as changes the Pledge has undergone.
  • E(xhibit): Can this source be used as evidence or examples to analyze?
    • For a literature paper, this would be a poem you are analyzing. For a history paper, a historical document you are analyzing. For a sociology paper, it might be the data from a study.
  • A(rgument): Can this source be used to engage its argument?
    • For example, you might use an editorial from The New York Times on the value of higher education to refute in your own paper.
  • M(ethod): Can the way this source analyzes an issue apply to your own issue?
    • For example, you might use a study’s methods, definitions, or conclusions on gentrification in Chicago to apply to neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Adapted from Hunter College Libraries, CUNY, "How to Use a Source: The BEAM Method."