Skip to Main Content

CSTEP Summer Research Program Library Resources Guide: Evaluating Information

This Guide is intended for students in UB's CSTEP Summer Research Program. It contains links to library research resources, as well as contact information for the Engineering Librarian.
Last Updated: Sep 7, 2021 10:16 AM

Evaluating Information Intro

Evaluating the information you find during your search is important. Information sources you find from using the UB Libraries Everything Search are reputable, but what if you need to do an internet search using Google or another search engine? And if you do use scholarly, scientific articles for your research, how do you decipher and digest that information? 

This portion of the Guide will walk you through the CRAAP test to evaluate the information you find. It will also from information on how to read a scientific paper properly and efficiently. 

CRAAP Test

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted? 
  • Has the information been revised or updated? 
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic? 
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question? 
  • Who is the intended audience? 
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)? 
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use? 
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor? 
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given? 
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given? 
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic? 
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address? 
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization - sometimes!), or .net (network) 

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from? 
  • Is the information supported by evidence? 
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed? 
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge? 
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion? 
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Evaluating Websites: CRAAP Test

Thanks to McMaster University

How to Read of Scientific Paper

Reading a scientific journal article is NOT like reading a book. It does not begin at the beginning and then finish in the end. The important thing to remember is YOU are deciding if this article is relevant to you and worthwhile to its field. 

First, it's important to know the basic pieces of a scientific article. These can include: 

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials & Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion/Conclusion
  • References

When trying to decide if a scientific research article is one that will be helpful to you, it can be useful to read the article in the following order:

  • Abstract
  • Discussion/Conclusion
  • Introduction
  • Results

For a more thorough overview of how to read a scientific article, refer to this wonderful tutorial from Purdue University Libraries on How to Read a Scientific Paper.

Evaluating Websites

Watch for Red Flags! These strategies that can help you determine whether a website is credible enough to use in a research paper:

  • Website does not look professionally designed
  • Lack of citations or links to verifiable information
  • No author/sponsoring organization is listed, either on the main page or in an 'About Us' section
  • The page's purpose is to sell something (almost all .com)
  • There is a lot of advertising on the page
  • The publisher is promoting a specific point of view

Engineering Librarian

Profile Photo
Erin Rowley
Contact:
119 Lockwood Library
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260
epautler@buffalo.edu
716-645-1369