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Research Guides

Information Literacy & Library Research: Applying the CRAAP Test to Articles and Books

Information literacy is the ability to know when information is needed and to be able to identify, locate and evaluate, and then legally and responsibly use and share that information.

Applying the CRAAP Test to Articles

When searching for articles in databases, such as Academic Search Ultimate, the CRAAP test can be used to quickly evaluate any potential articles by looking through the detailed record, which is found by clicking on an article's title.

Here is a break down of where you can find some of the information in Academic Search Ultimate:

Currency is found by looking at when the article was published. How does when it was publish affect the information based on your topic?

By scanning the abstract, you can quickly see if the article is relevant, as the abstract is a summary of what the article is about.

Authority can be gauged by looking at the authors themselves. Are they qualified to be writing about this subject with this amount of detail? You can see their institutional affiliations near the bottom, and you can also click their names to see what other articles they have written. Googling their names and their affiliations can give you more information on their educational background as well.

Accuracy is all about if they've supported their arguments, so looking at the article itself to see if there are graphs and citations is a good idea. You can also click on the journal title to see if the journal is peer reviewed or not, which gives an additional layer of accuracy to the article.

If your notice the purpose is highlighted by the PDF Full text icon, this is because skimming the actual article, especially the introduction and conclusion, can be the best way to assess the purpose of the article and whether it will work for your purpose.

Breakdown of the detailed records using the CRAAP test.

 

The following video (5:20) will show how the CRAAP test can look when put into action, evaluating both a magazine article and a journal article.

 

Applying the CRAAP Test to Books

Using the CRAAP test on books is a little different. Books are formatted differently and are obviously much longer than research articles. This means that checking for the  CRAAP criteria will take just a little bit more digging. You can search for books in the Books and eBooks catalog, or the EDS. In both locations you can search using the skills we learned in Module 3, to find books on your topic. You will want to click on the book title for more details so you can apply the CRAAP test criteria.

Here is a breakdown of how you can find that information in the Books and eBooks catalog and EDS:

Look for currency in the same location as an article, the publication date. Based on that date, explain whether the book is current enough, given your topic. 

To establish relevance, use the book summary, similar to the abstract of an article. You can quickly scan the book summary or the table of contents in the front of the book to get an idea of how relevant the book’s content might be. Pay attention to specific chapters, because the entire book might be too broad for your topic, but a particular chapter of the book might be relevant to you.

Gauge authority by looking into the authors. Who are they? What are their credentials? You might have to do some background research in Google to find out more but sometimes books will have author blurbs.

Accuracy is the most difficult to establish, because books aren't peer reviewed in the way that articles are. However, you can still check for citations and look into the publishers of the book. The quickest tell is if the publisher is an academic press, such as one belonging to a university. They usually have the most rigorous editorial process. But that doesn't mean other presses and publishers are less good. Simply look into the publisher. How well known are they? What do they typically publish? Nonfiction publishers will also be considered academic to a certain degree. Are they a regular publishing company or a vanity press? Vanity presses are a type of self publishing where you pay to have the book published, so there is little to no editorial process, which is the main replacement for the peer review for the accuracy criteria. Self-published books generally haven’t  gone through a formal editorial process, and therefore could potentially be less accurate. Citations in books can be in a number of places, so you have to actually open the book or ebook and check. Some books have them at the end of each chapter, some in footnotes, and some at the very end of the book. They will usually be labeled as "notes'' or "references."

You can find the purpose by reading the book summary, as well as the preface of the book, if you are doing a deeper dive into the book. The acknowledgments page is also a place to look for some clues as to the purpose.

 

a screenshot of an ebook found in the library catalog, highlighting the locations the information for using the CRAAP criteria.