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Counseling: Evaluate Resources

This guide is designed to help you get started with your research in counseling. It includes books, databases, journals and links to useful websites. Your suggestions are welcome.

Evaluating Resources

Why Evaluate?

  • The world is full of information to be found—however, not all of it is valid, useful, or accurate. Therefore, you need to weigh the reliability of sources. Any resource—print, human, or electronic—used to support your research inquiry must be evaluated for its credibility and reliability.
  •  Unlike similar information found in newspapers or television broadcasts, information available on the Internet is not regulated for quality or accuracy; therefore, it is particularly important for the individual Internet user to evaluate the resource or information. Without the proper quality control over web information, you must critically evaluate all the material you find there, text and graphics alike.

How To Evaluate?

  •  When you use the print and multimedia materials found in your college library and library website, your evaluation task is not so complicated because librarians have already established the credibility and appropriateness of those materials for academic research. The marketplace forces publishers to be selective as well. Start your research with both print and electronic library materials.
  • Evaluating sources is an important skill. It's been called an art as well as work—much of which is detective work. You have to decide where to look, what clues to search for, and what to accept. You may be overwhelmed with too much information or too little. The temptation is to accept whatever you find. But don't be tempted. Learning how to evaluate effectively is a skill you need both for your course papers and for your life.

Applying the CRAAP Test to Evaluate

Use the "CRAAP" Test to evaluate the information that you find. If the information doesn't pass the test, you should not use it as a source.

When was it published/posted or last updated?
-- Do you need current information, or are older sources acceptable?

-- Does it relate to your topic or answer your question?
Who is the intended audience?
-- Is the information at an appropriate level?  Too advanced?  Too easy?

-- Who is the author, publisher, source, or sponsor?
-- What are their credentials or organizational affiliations?
Is the author qualified to write on the topic?

-- Where does the information come from?
-- Is the information supported by evidence?
-- Has it been reviewed or refereed?

-- Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
-- What is the purpose of the information? To inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
-- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial, free of emotion, and unbiased? 


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