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Public Health : MPH 615 Environmental Health: Evaluation and Research

Evaluation process and criteria

To make sure the sources you found can be trusted use the CRAAP test. The CRAAP test is used to confirm research sources are useful and reliable for your research paper.

1. The first step in evaluating an information source is determining whether or not the source is

CURRENT

  • This means that your source is up to date with your topic.
  • It may also show if your topic has been revised recently.
  • Your need to decide if your topic needs updated information or if work cited ten years ago is still relevant.

2. The second thing you will need to do when you think you have a good source is to determine whether or not the information from the source is

RELEVANT

  • A source could provide the most accurate, credible, or useful information, but this does absolutely no good if it doesn’t relate to your topic.
  • You need to make sure that the information provided is similar to that of what you are researching or writing about.
  • Do not discard a source just because it does not talk about your topic directly, there maybe parts in the source that are smaller parts of the big topic.

3. Next you should make sure that the information source you are using is

AUTHORITATIVE

  • In order for a source to be authoritative, the author should have a deep understanding of the subject.
  • The author(s) may have the knowledge about the topic and that they are trying to infrom you rather than persuade you.
  • You can find this information by doing a little bit of research on the author of the article.
  • You can also see if the article has been peer-reviewed, which gives you proof that the article has been corrected by other viewers that gave their feedback on the topic.
  • For example, if a college professor with a Doctoral degree in physics wrote an article on the American Civil War, then chances are he is not an authoritative source on the Civil War.
  • While the professor may have an interest in history, his area of expertise is still in physics, not history. Therefore he would not be an authoritative source.
  • You can also make sure that your sources are authoritative or credible by searching your topic through a library's database because they are more likely to assure accuracy and authority.

4. Once you have evaluated the previous steps, you need to know if the information is

ACCURATE

  • Check these four things to make sure the source is accurate:If you use a source that contains false information or statistics, it can make you look very bad. In order to present a strong argument, your information needs to be accurate.
    •  Citation- the referance the author gives to make sure the infromation is correct.
    • Peer-reviewed- the source is more likely to be accurate if credible authors viewed it and gave their approval. 
    • Editoral process- in newspapers and magazines, editors review the articles before they are published.
    • Verify in other sources- if the infromation appears in more than one credible source, then the article can be verified as safe.
    • In order to determine whether your source contains accurate information or not, you need to look at what kind of place you are getting the information from.

5. Finally, possibly the most important step is the

PUPRPOSE

  • Is the author of the source trying to inform you or persuade you?
  • If a source is aimed more at persuading you, then chances are the information is swayed in such a way that it is practically useless in an argument. Bias can be okay in certain situations, just make sure you are able to recognize it.
  • Some things that should cause red flags are websites with quite a few places to donate or any kind of political campaign.

Picking Your Topic is Research

Research Process Description