Last Updated: Oct 24, 2023 Views: 62

The CRAAPO test and SIFT method are two helpful tools for deciding if a source is credible. They can help you determine if the source is a good fit for your research assignment.

The CRAAPO test is a checklist of things that should be looked for in a credible source. It is often used to evaluate scholarly or academic sources found within and outside of the library. CRAAPO is good for evaluating a specific source, like a research journal article or a document from a government website.

The SIFT method emphasizes thoughtful investigation of biases and contextualizing sources to make a determination. This method is best used for popular, non-academic websites and other Internet/WWW sources (like blogs, social media, etc.). SIFT is good for evaluating a broader range of information sources.

These evaluation techniques are similar, overlapping at several points, but they also have areas where there is a distinctly different focus. The chart below compares the two methods. 

CRAAPO: Currency SIFT: Stop and reflect
  • When was the information created or last updated?
  • Date should be prominently displayed.
  • For electronic sources -- are the links all working or are some broken?
  • Do you know the website or source of information? What is the reputation of both the claim and the website? What grabs you about this content? Is it thoughtful or emotive?
  • Reflect on your purpose from time to time; are you still on track or going down a rabbit hole?
CRAAPO: Relevancy SIFT: Investigate the source
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (not too simple/not too advanced)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining if this is one you will use?
  • Is this source relevant or helpful to your purpose?
  • Who is making the claim?
  • What do you know about them and their reputation?
  • What expertise does the source claim to have?
  • What is the agenda (hidden, obvious, muddled?) and self-interest of the source? What’s in it for them?
  • Lateral Reading – don't just read what the site says, open new tabs and verify from other sources
  • What do you already know about the website this article comes from?
  • It's a reliable, trusted news source-go ahead and read the article.
  • Don't know? Keep sifting...
  • Who wrote it? Would you consider them an authority on the topic?
    • Yes? Go ahead and read the article!
    • No? Seek out another source.
CRAAPO: Autority SIFT: Find other coverage as confirmation
  • Who is the author?
  • Is the author the original creator of the information?
  • Are the author's occupation, education, or other credentials listed?
  • Who are the author’s organizational affiliations?
  • For websites -- what does the URL reveal about the author or source, i.e. .com, .org, .edu, .gov, .net, etc.
CRAAPO: Accuracy SIFT: Trace claims
  • Is the information verifiable?
  • Is it accurate?
  • Are their resources documented?
  • What does this source offer when compared to other resources?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?
  • Is the language or tone unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Can you verify the information in another source?
  • Is the information crowd-sourced or easily changed by unknown authors, i.e., Wikipedia or other public wikis?
  • Does the source refer to other sources for the claim being made? Can those sources be followed to verify the claim?
  • Idea of tracing the source back to original content if possible.
  • Does the claim acknowledge the contributions of others by credit or attribution?
  • Is the information taken out of [its original?] context?
  • Is the article, video, research, or image you're looking at original (not reposted)?
  • No? Track down the original source (or sources) instead!
  • Yes? Go ahead and read or watch the resource and gather information.
  • Is what you're looking at the entire work, video, research study (not edited version)?
  • No? Track down the original source (or sources) instead!
  • Yes? Go ahead and read or watch the resource and gather information.
CRAAPO: Purpose
  • What appears to be the purpose of the information -- to inform, teach, sell, entertain, public services, or persuade?
  • Is the information biased?
  • Are there any advertisements?
  • Why is the author/creator providing this information?
CRAAPO: Objectivity
  • What institution (company, organization, government, university, etc.) supports this information?
  • Does the institution appear to exercise quality control over the information appearing under its name?
  • Does the author's affiliation with this institution appear to bias the information?
  • Is there advertising and does it affect the content and message of the source?

Use one or both CRAAPO and SIFT methods, or a combination of the steps from both to help you determine if the source is credible and supports your research topic. We want to stress that one method is not necessarily better than the other. They are different, and you will want to use your judgment as a researcher to determine the option that is best suited to your assignment.

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Last Updated: October 24, 2023

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