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Dissertation Survival Guide: Evaluating your sources

Guidance on how to complete your Dissertation/Final Year Project and make the most of Library and IT Services and Resources

Evaluating your sources

When writing a literature review, it's important to think critically about the sources you are using. In writing your literature review, you are expect to have selected quality, reliable sources to support your arguments.

There are several techniques you can use to evaluate sources before you include them in your literature review. See details below of two techniques you may wish to use: the CRAAP test, or lateral reading.

You may wish to use the worksheet below to evaluate your sources as you read.

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP test is a checklist you can use to help decide whether the source you are looking at is appropriate to use.

CRAAP stands for:

  • Currency: How up-to-date is the information?
  • Reliability/ Relevance: How suitable is the information for your needs?
  • Authority: Who/ what is the source of the information?
  • Accuracy: Is the information truthful and factual?
  • Purpose: Why was this information created in the first place?

For more detail on these points, see the video below, or download the flyer with further details.

Lateral Reading

Another evaluation technique you can use is known as "lateral reading". This is a technique used by professional fact-checkers to verify information posted online. 

Lateral reading is a useful technique to use for non-scholarly information, such as free websites, think-tank white papers and reports, and multimedia content such as videos or podcasts.

De Montfort University have created an online tutorial on using lateral reading to evaluate sources. The video below also gives an introduction to the technique and how to apply it.