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Getting Started With Your Paper / Project

Tips from UMSL's Reference Librarians on researching papers and projects.

Evaluate Sources

Why and how do I evaluate sources?


You will want to evaluate each source you come across to make sure you are getting the best information possible.  In a pinch, you can use the CRAAP acronym to assess your source:

  • Is it Current?
  • Is it Relevant?
  • Is it Authoritative?
  • Is it Accurate?
  • Does it meet my Purpose?

Without checking these criteria, you run the risk of using information that is out of date, misinterpreted, or even completely false.

One of the benefits of using the library for research is that its resources (books, databases, etc.) have been written and reviewed by experts.  Information you collect from library resources is more likely to be factual and detailed enough for academic research.

What about information I find on the web?

Information on the Internet can vary widely in its quality.  It's possible you may come across helpful sources, but it is less likely to have been vetted by subject area experts for its accuracy.

For more detail, visit our guide to Evaluating Web Sources.

Some quick red flags to watch out for:

  • Website has not been edited recently
    • Old copyright
    • Broken links
    • Out of date citations
  • No author or organization listed / no About page
  • Frequent grammar or spelling errors
  • Source is advertising a product or service for sale