Evaluating Information

Coming soon!

Questioning Information

Before you include evidence in your arguments, you might want to assess how reliable the information is. Some students feel reluctant to question sources as they don’t feel qualified to critique the writings of others. However, part of forming an academic argument is the ability to assess evidence and make informed judgments on the information we read or hear.

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test was devised by the Meriam Library at California State University (2019) and was originally intended to be used to evaluate online sources to make sure they are suitable for academic use. You can use the CRAAP Test below and amend the criteria according to your information need:  


When was the information published or posted online?

Has the information been revised or updated?

Does your topic require up to date information, or will older sources work too?

Are all the links on the webpage functional?


Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?

Is the information at an appropriate level for your needs?

Have you considered a variety of other resources before deciding to use this one?

Would you be comfortable citing this source in your work?


Who is the author/ publisher/ source/ sponsor?

What are the author’s credentials or affiliations?

Is the author qualified to write on the topic?

Is there contact information available?

Does the URL reveal anything about the source?


Is the information supported by evidence?

Has the information been peer-reviewed, edited or refereed?

Can you verify any of the information from your personal knowledge?

Is the writing style unbiased and free of emotion?

Are there any spelling or grammar errors?


Is the purpose of the information to inform, persuade, entertain, teach or sell?

Does the author make their intention clear?

Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?

Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?

Are there any political, ideological, cultural, religious, personal or institutional biases?

Critical Reading

Critical reading is often known as active reading too, as it involves a level of critical activity with a text, to determine any information that is open to debate, interpretation or further examination. A good place to start is to consider anything you read as the author’s argument, rather than fact. This will allow you to engage with the text on another level, so you move beyond memorising facts and toward evaluation. Here are some critical questions to answer whilst reading, so you can form your argument as you read:

Explain the content:

  • Who is the author?
  • What is the main purpose or overall argument of the source?
  • When was the text written and in which context?

Analyse the content:

  • Is the author an expert or academic?
  • What is their main argument?
  • What reasons or evidence has the author provided for their argument?
  • Are these arguments reasonable and reliable?
  • To what extent are all assumptions supported by evidence?
  • Has something been left out? What is the significance of this?
  • Is the conclusion reasonable?

Evaluate the content:

  • Is this source relevant to the assignment question?
  • What is the author’s position or perspective?
  • What are the strengths of the argument/evidence?
  • What are the weaknesses of the argument/evidence?
  • How does this argument/ evidence differ from others?
  • How does this argument/ evidence support others?
  • How will you use this argument/evidence in your writing?
  • Which aspects need to be investigated further?

(Adapted from University of Leeds, 2019).

Critical Thinking and Listening

A lot of information is conveyed aurally, so you might need to develop your critical listening skills. This will be helpful for you in lectures, seminars and tutorials, but also if you are watching a You Tube video or listening to a podcast. Here are somethings to be mindful of:

  • Read, then listen: read up on the topic under discussion beforehand, so you are able to focus on making your own judgments.
  • Identify the thread: try to focus on the line of reasoning, and don’t get distracted by anecdotes or emotive stories
  • Question it: don’t be swayed by a nice accent, a celebrity voiceover or an emotive appeal! Remember to question everything you hear and make up your own mind on whether you agree with the argument.

(Cottrell, 2019, p. 271)


Disinformation, or as it is more commonly known, ‘fake news’, refers to information that is false or partly false, and is created with the deliberate intention of misleading. Disinformation has been around for a long time, but it has become prominent with the rise of social media, which can spread credible fake news to a wider audience. Some disinformation can be trickier to spot than others, especially when it is interspersed online. There is a large movement in the UK dedicated to combatting the spread of fake news and creating resources for individuals to use in order to detect disinformation. Additionally, being able to determine genuine news from fake news, as well as having a number of ways to identify the legitimacy of the source is an excellent study skill. After all, ‘if you can recognise it, you can resist it’ (DROG, 2019). Here are some resources that you might find useful:

  • Snopes – The definitive fact-checking site that will give you a rating of how true or false a claim is. Good for finding legitimate examples!
  • About Bad News – an online game that takes about 10 minutes to complete, that puts you in the position of a fake news creator. Good fun and easy to follow!
  • The WayBack Machine – The internet archive which is useful for browsing websites revisions and researching the origins of webpages to check their reliability.
  • TinEye – a reverse image searcher so you can find the origin of a photograph and/or see if it has been doctored
  • Factitious – an online game that allows you to read web articles and decide whether they are fact or fiction.
  • John Hopkins University ‘Evaluating Information’ – Information put together by the John Hopkins Library on the different definitions of information, including propaganda, misinformation and disinformation

Useful Sources for Evaluating Information