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FAKE NEWS vs. REAL NEWS: How to Determine the Reliability of Sources

Learn about the credibility of news.

Use the CRAAP Test

With resources like Google at our fingertips, information isn't hard to find. What is challenging is determining whether that information is credible and can be trusted. What is the purpose? Is it factual? Relevant to your topic?

A Google search is often our first stop to gain a basic understanding of the main ideas about a topic, but since anyone with access to a computer can publish anything online, it is crucial that you evaluate the information you find, especially when completing a research paper, or looking for important information (like health, election, or financial information).

Web sources can be particularly hard to evaluate, so CSU Chico librarians developed this handy acronym in 2010 to help you determine if a source may be CRAAP (pdf).

C: Currency R: Relevance A: Authority A: Accuracy P: Purpose

  • CURRENCY How recently was this information published/posted/updated? Can you find a publication date?
  • RELEVANCEDoes the information relate to your topic? Who is the intended audience? How does this source compare to other sources you may have found on the topic?
  • AUTHORITYWho wrote the information - are they an expert or knowledgeable in their field? (i.e. For health information, did a doctor or nurse write it? For science information, did a scientist or researcher write it?)
  • ACCURACY: Where does the information come from? Is it supported by evidence? Has it been reviewed or refereed? Can you verify the information in one or more other sources?
  • PURPOSEWhy was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? To educate? What is the point of view?

Why check for accuracy?