Evaluating search results

Use the CRAAP test

After using your search strategy, it’s time to evaluate your results. Do this by applying the CRAAP test to assess:

  1. Currency
  2. Relevance
  3. Authority
  4. Accuracy
  5. Purpose

1 Currency

Determining currency depends on your topic, its context, and the accepted ideas that underpin your discipline. 

Ask yourself:

  • When was the journal article or book published?
  • What publication range is suitable for your topic?  
  • Is the information still up to date and accurate?

In most cases, a good measure of currency is whether the article or book has been published in the last 5 years.

2 Relevance

The key question to ask here is:

  • Does the information in your results fit the context or discipline you are working in?

For example, if you are researching whether Shakespeare’s works were published by one person, then search results questioning the use of Shakespeare’s works in the NSW secondary curriculum might not contain the relevant information for your topic or question. In short, the information has to fit your context or discipline, and it needs to help you directly address your assignment or research question.

3 Authority

This is where you question the credibility of the author, publisher or sponsor.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the author's credentials and qualifications?
  • Is the publisher or publication legitimate and respected?
  • Are the authors or publishers affiliated with or funded by other organisations?

4 Accuracy

If you’re looking at a primary source, check whether the article includes a description of the research process or methodology. 

If you’re looking at a secondary source, which might not detail a research process or methodology, check whether it has undergone peer review on the publisher’s website. Peer review indicates a high level of accuracy. 

For both primary and secondary sources, check the reference list to make sure that key points of information are verified by other sources. This is called citation chaining.

5 Purpose

To determine the purpose of the source, ask yourself:

  • Is it designed to inform?
  • Has it been written for an academic audience? 
  • Are there any biases – political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal? 

Take this information into account when evaluating the reliability and quality of your search results. 

  • Contact

    We're here to help, online or in person.

    Contact us