Evaluating information

You can improve the quality of your assessment and boost your marks by using credible information. But how can you tell if the resources you've found are credible and suitable for your assessment?

Using the CRAP test

Information comes in all shapes, sizes and quality, and from many different sources. One of the best skills you can gain is the ability to evaluate information quality. You want to make sure the information you use in your assessments comes from reliable sources that are fit for purpose.

The CRAP (Currency, Reliability, Authority, Purpose) test can help you quickly and easily evaluate any piece of information.

Using the test

Ask yourself

  • When was the information published?
  • Does currency matter for this topic?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • When was the webpage last updated?


History of educational theories - older resources may be appropriate.


Social media in education - older resources may not be appropriate.

Ask yourself

  • Who published the information?
  • Is the source reputable? Is it peer reviewed?
  • Does the creator provide references and are those references credible?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
  • Is the book published by a university college press or other scholarly publisher such as Elsevier of SAGE?


A satirical news website (e.g. Betoota Advocate).


A not for profit media group sourcing content from academics and researchers (e.g. The Conversation).

Ask yourself

  • Who is the creator or author? Sources without an author may be less credible
  • What are their qualifications, affiliations and experience?
  • Are they an expert in the field?
  • Is the author affiliated with an educational or research institution or a government agency?


An article written by a self-appointed expert that appears on a blog.


A peer reviewed article written by a team of university academics.

Ask yourself

  • Why was the information published and who is the intended audience?
  • Is the creator trying to sell, inform, entertain, persuade?
  • Is it fact or opinion?
  • Is it biased or balanced?
  • Is it to report on or summarise research on a topic?
  • Is it written for an academic audience (scholars, researchers)?
  • Does it use specialised or discipline specific language?


A webpage on diabetes from a pharmacy company that produces drugs to treat diabetes. They may have a vested interest.


Diabetes information from a government website such as Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW). They have no vested interest.

Tips for evaluating websites

It is easy to find information on the Internet but the majority of content out there is not suitable to be cited in your university assignment, the website domain gives you an idea of the reliability of a website and the different purposes they serve.

.edu (educational institution)
.gov (government)
These are more likely to be reliable and unbiased.
.org (non-profit organisation)
.asn (non-commercial organisation)
Sometimes these organisations may show a bias toward one side of a topic.
.com (commercial site)
.net (network)
Critically evaluate these sites as they may be unreliable.

Learn more about how to evaluate websites, spot fake news and recognise bias in our Evaluating websites, news and media guide.

Critical thinking

Reading and thinking critically involves engaging with information at a deeper level. The first steps are to examine the arguments presented and consider the author's point of view or bias. This will help you to form a judgement about the quality and relevance of the information.

The Academic Skills Team have videos on critical thinking and critical reading.

Other useful information

A-Z databases

Find the best library databases for your research.

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