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FYI 102: Augspurger

Evaluating Resources

Augustana's Learning Objectives: Information Literacy



Authority is Constructed and Contextual 

In other words, different groups of people recognize different types of authority in different contexts. Someone who is information literate has the ability to look at a resource with both a skeptical eye and a willingness to be open to new perspectives, voices, and ways of thinking. 

In order to do this, you need to be able to: 

  • Recognize different types of authority; 
  • Use research skills to determine credibility of sources, while being able to identify markers that may call credibilit into question; 
  • Actively seek out authoritative sources, in whatever form they may take. 

Video Transcript: Link

Searching laterally, in a nutshell, requires you to search for information about a source while reading it - in order to decide whether or not it is trustworthy. It is a skill that you should build and use whenever you are taking in information online, no matter the source. 

Perhaps the most famous study into lateral reading was conducted by Stanford, in which college students, professors, and professional fact-checkers were all evaluated to determine their information seeking behaviors. Across the board, most participants did NOT conduct outside materials to help determine the credibility of the source they were using - potentially leading to many being duped into using a less-than-trustworthy information source.  

As you are evaluating your resources, I highly encourage you to use the CRAAP test as a way of identifying possible issues with the credibility of your resource. Listed below are the five factors the CRAAP test takes into consideration, as well as some of the questions you can ask yourself about a resource to determine if it is credible for use in research. 

Factor Things to Consider Taking Your Search to the Next Level

When was the resource published?

Is this the most up-to-date information available?

Does the date of publication even matter for your topic?




Even if it is up-to-date, is the information going to answer your research question?

Is the scope of the material appropriate for your needs?  (i.e. a doctoral dissertation that is hundreds of pages long may not be an appropriate resource for a 2-3 page paper)




Are the author(s) listed? 

Can you determine the author(s) credentials or qualifications to discuss such topics? 

Do they list their sources?

Are they citing other experts in their sources? 

Are the publication itself and the publishing company reputable? 

Has the resource undergone peer review? 




Can you determine the author's credentials from someone other than the author themselves?


Can you determine the reputation of the publication / publishing company from a third-party?


Who is funding this publication or research? Are they an unbiased source as well or do they fund sources that fit a particular agenda?


Is the information contained within correct?

Are there any noticeable errors or questionable content? 

Is there any content that seems as though it has been misrepresented?



What information can you independently verify? Can you independently 'fact check' the source? 


Have you consulted more than one additional resource to verify the accuracy of the source?


What do these other sites say about the source or the information contained within? Are there differences in interpretation or opinion?


Why was this information written and made available to you? Can you determine the author's motives?

Was it written for academic purposes? For interest reading or entertainment? To sell you something? To influence your political opinion?

Is it biased or promoting an agenda?

What other works has this author published? What types of works in general do they produce? 


Are their works as a whole unbiased? Or do they have a tendency to write works that are biased or sensational?



Consider the following: 

  1. What about this source seems to be credible / authoritative? What are the positive signs this is a quality source?
  2. Can you identify any 'red flags' about the source you are looking at? 
  3. What content from the article could you easily independently verify?


Remember that the CRAAP test can provide some questions to help you identify red flags in the source, but that there may be many other indicators for you to consider!

Resource #1: Online Opinion Piece Resource 1 Link
Resource #2: Online Opinion Piece Resource 2 Link
Resource #3: Magazine Article Resource 3 Link
Resource #4: Magazine Article (long-form) Resource 4 Link
Resource #5: 'Investigative Journalism Piece' Resource 5 Link
Resource #6: Daily News Piece Resource 6 Link