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An Overview: The Research Process

The research process is complex and multilayered. This tutorial provides an overview and some practical strategies you can use.


To evaluate a source, ask yourself a series of questions that address Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose (aka CRAAP questions!). This process will help you determine if a source is credible and help you identify if it is relevant to your research. The handout below can be downloaded to help walk through the process.

Currency: Determine if the date of publication of the information is suitable for your project.
What is the copyright, publication, or posting date?
Why is or isn’t the date important for the message or content of the source?
Is the information outdated in relation to the topic?


Relevance: Determine how applicable the information is to your project.
For what audience or level is the information written (general public, experts/scholars, etc.)?
Explain why you would or would not quote/reference the information from this source in your project.


Authority: Determine if the source author, creator, or publisher of the information is the most knowledgeable.
Who is the author, creator, or publisher of the source or what organization is responsible for the source?
Is there contact information available?
How do you know if the author is an expert on the topic (e.g. examine the author’s credentials, experience, and/or organizational affiliation)?
From where does the money for the research or programming come, if relevant?


Accuracy: Determine the reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
What indications do you see that the information is or is not well researched or provides sufficient evidence?
What kind of language, imagery and/or tone is used (e.g. emotional, objective, professional, etc.)?
Does evidence support the premises/claims and conclusions?
Are facts and claims documented or cited within the text, as notes, or in a bibliography?


Purpose: Determine the reason why the information exists.
Why was this source written (e.g. to inform, teach, entertain, persuade)?
How might the author's affiliation affect the point of view, slant, or potential bias of the source?
How might the intended audience affect the point of view, slant, or potential bias of the information?
What conclusions are presented, and is the information complete? Is anything major excluded?
How does this resource compare to others on the same topic?