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Engineering and Society (SPRK 001-07)


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 For a history paper, a historical document you are analyzing.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."

Question Everything

  1. Why are there more untrustworthy sources now than before the Internet was available?
  2. What role are you encouraged to take when evaluating information?
  3. What suggestions are given to help you protect yourself against untrustworthy information? What should you do when evaluating information?
  4. Why might more current sources be more credible than older sources?  Why not? 

Something to think about

When evaluating resources you have to remember that you're not just a consumer, you're a researcher.  This means working to understand bias, context, and issues surrounding the topic that you're studying. 

For instance, dietary and nutritional information seems to be constantly changing. Why might this be? If I had to guess it would have to do with how difficult the studies are to conduct, who stands to gain by influencing the narrative and that our understanding of medicine is changing as well. It can be difficult for those with access to scholarly journals to sort out the data and almost impossible for the consumer.