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ABE 69: HS 21+ US History: Evaluating your sources

Evaluating sources

The information on this page will help you to decide if your sources are authoritative and reliable.

Why evaluating sources is important to your education

Why Evaluating Sources is Important to Your Educationphotograph of a stack of books

Many of your instructors will ask you to use only credible, reliable and authoritative sources in your work.

Here are some definitions from Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary:

CREDIBLE: offering reasonable grounds for being believed.

AUTHORITATIVE: having or proceeding from authority; clearly accurate or knowledgeable.

Image source: "Stack of books2" by Auntieruth55, MikiMedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The CRAAP test!

Evaluate with the CRAAP Test

Here are some evaluation criteria to get you started. This is a more simplistic approach, but easy to recall!

CRAAP test


  • When was the information published?
  • How recently has the website been updated?
  • Is it current enough for my topic?


  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Does the source help answer my research questions?
  • Is this written at the level my instructor requires?


  • Who (or what organization) is the creator or author?
  • What are the credentials of that author--education, training, experience?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor--are they reputable?


  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
  • Does the information correlate with information found in other reputable sources?

Purpose/Point of View

  • Is the content of the resource primarily opinion? Is is balanced?
  • Is this fact or opinion?
  • Is the creator/author trying to sell me something?
  • Are there advertisements on the website?
  • Is there bias?

Applying the CRAAP Test

To help you think through these questions and apply them to a potential resource, try using this CRAAP Test Rubric, developed by Lamar State College-Orange.

Evaluating sources video tutorial

Evaluating Sources Video Tutorial

Watch the video below. To see it in a larger window, click on the link below.

Finding more reliable websites -- limit your domains!

Find Reliable Websites: Limit the Domains!

URL domains can be clues to a site's reliability and ownership. 

Common URL Domains:
  • .com = commercial (ads & pop-ups)
  • .gov = U.S. government (official agencies)
  • .mil = U.S. military
  • .edu = educational (colleges & universities)
  • .org = organization (could be non-profit or for-profit, can be informative but often biased)
  • .net = network (could be almost anything, including personal websites)
  • .info = information (generic domain, no criteria needed for companies or individuals to use)
  • .biz = business (an alternative to .com)

Considering who is publishing information on the websites you visit can help you assess the credibility of sources.  You can also limit your searches, like through a Google search, by using the "site:" search shortcut. 

"Site searching" examples:

sample site search limiting the domain to educational websites

  • "politics in art" (would find educational resources on this topic)
  • "politics in art" (would find U.S. government resources on this topic)
  • Note that there are NO spaces before or after the colon after the word "site"

Try a search below:

Google Web Search

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