THE WRITING CENTER
The CRAP Test
The CRAP test is a method for evaluating research based on the following criteria: Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose/Point of View. Below are some questions to help you think about whether your research sources are proper for academic writing and whether the research will HELP you in your essay by acting as appropriate support, points of reference/conversation. Essentially, in academic writing, you are entering into a conversation with other academics, researchers, etc, and you want to be sure that you have verifiable, accurate, and pertinent research supporting your argument so that YOUR CLAIMS are viewed as valid and significant.
Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating research source materials:
· How recent is the information?
· How recently has the website/information been updated?
· Is the research current enough for your topic, or is it outdated?
· What kind of information is included in the resource? Is it based on facts and statistics, or is it “padded” with large vocabulary but really has no substance? (You must read your source material CLOSELY)
· Is the content of the source based primarily in opinion? Is the author’s argument balanced, showing both sides of an issue? Does the author address other ideas that are opposed to his/her own?
· Does the author provide references or research sources for data and/or quotations that they use? Does the author evaluate those sources, or does he/she use them at will without questioning the validity?
· Who is the creator/author?
· What are his/her credentials? Does the author possess “authority” to speak and/or write about their topic? (For example, a doctor would not have the “authority” to talk about the field of education because he/she doesn’t have personal, relevant experience in the field of education, even though he/she would have plenty of experience in the medical field) Don’t assume just because an author has a Ph.D. or a distinguished title that they are a reliable resource for you and your purposes for writing.
· Who is the publisher and/or sponsor of the research?
· Is the author and/or publisher reputable?
· What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information? Does it make sense that this particular publisher would endorse such research?
· Are there advertisements on the website? If so, chances are it’s not a reliable source because it’s receiving its funding through private donors, which lends itself to biased information that is presented.
Purpose/Point of View:
· Is the research source fact or opinion?
· Is it biased?
· Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?
Some questions to ask yourself in regards to your research sources:
· How does this source support my claim/argument?
· What interesting topics of discussion does the research source discuss that I could potentially address in my writing? Remember, we want to ENGAGE in a conversation in our writing—both with our reader and with our material we are using.
· What source do I have that negates my claim/argument? What source challenges my argument/claim? If you don’t have one, get one—you want to present a balanced view, and you can’t do that without addressing the opposing viewpoints your audience may have. When you discuss them and then override them, THEN you establish authority as a writer and YOU are IN CONTROL of your material, not the other way around.
· Is this source focused on a different area/aspect of my topic than my other research sources? You don’t want to have 5 sources all saying the same thing; find some variety in your research so you can view your topic from many different perspectives.
· Am I controlling my research, rather than my research controlling me? Meaning, am I being intentional in my research? Am I focusing on my main points of my argument and intentionally finding resources that will help support MY points?
· How recent is the information?
· How recently has the website been updated?
· Is it current enough for your topic?
· What kind of information is included in the resource?
· Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is is balanced?
· Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
· Who is the creator or author?
· What are the credentials? Can you find any information about the author’s background?
· Who is the published or sponsor?
· Are they reputable?
· What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information?
· Are there advertisements on the website? If so, are they cleared marked?
Purpose/Point of View
· Is this fact or opinion? Does the author list sources or cite references?
· Is it biased? Does the author seem to be trying to push an agenda or particular side?
· Is the creator/author trying to sell you something? If so, is it clearly stated?
After looking at the website “Positive and Negative use of Social Media by Students” written by Ogunjinmi Bolaji, the first thing I noticed was the word “blog” which is in the name of the website and the URL. Likewise, this is a .com. Both of these now raise red flags for me. I realize now that a personal website is likely to be written by anyone, not an expert, and the .com shows the website exists to make money, rather than just to inform. Likewise, the author, who is not listed until the end of the article, states that his/her credentials are only that they own a website called Educationhelm. When I clicked the link to further investigate, the website no longer exists. I think this shows that this person is not an expert and that I shouldn’t automatically trust their writing. There also are no citations or references, which means I do not know where the information came from. The information seems to be current, but there is only one working link in the article. This circles back to another article written on BlogDash, which makes me skeptical that this website is unbiased and isn’t using circular reporting. Also, the audience of this article is unclear, and the level of this source might be better for younger people. The information is a bit more basic than might be good for a college audience as all of the words are simplistic. Finally, in its favor, there do not appear to be any biases and most of the information is very impartial, as it shows both the negative and positive effects. Overall, I would not trust this website after learning about source evaluation in class. There are too many things working against its favor, and I would likely try to find another, better source.
Exploratory Essay Reflection
In addition to the Exploratory Essay, I am going to ask you to write a reflection on your research process as well as the sources you used in your essay.
For several weeks, we are going to talk about the issues with the news media that seem to be bombarding us right now. This includes discussions on “fake news,” media bias, and source evaluation. After discussing these issues in class, I will expect you to be well-versed on how to both evaluate and describe the value of a source you have chosen for your paper.
In this assignment you will reflect upon your three outside sources using the CRAAP test as well as other materials from class that will help you to fairly assess their credibility.
-For each of your three outside sources, you will need to create a short paragraph assessing that source. -Use the CRAAP test, as well as class discussions and notes to assess each source from your paper. Seek to say something about audience, bias, currency, authority, etc. -I want to see a thorough assessment of each source and its credibility for full credit. However, I do not expect you to tell me that all of your sources are “the best” and absolutely pass the CRAAP test with flying colors. Part of this assignment is simply learning to evaluate a source. Even if the source does NOT pass the CRAAP test, tell me why! You may suggest that while you used it in your Exploratory Essay, you can now see why you would not use it in a more formal, academic essay.
Writing Requirements -Create one entry for each outside source you used. Tell me the title and the author(s). -Assess the source using the CRAAP test and other class resources. Be thorough. -This paper should be 1-2 double-spaced pages in length. -Use Times New Roman font, size 12, 1-inch margins, double spaced. -Use the correct MLA heading for papers, including page numbers -Focus on using correct English grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
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