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NRS160 Research Skills Guide: CRAP test

The CRAP Test

The CRAP Test is a way of analysing information resources to determine whether they're reliable, authoritative, and scholarly. Increasingly, people who may not necessarily be experts in a field are able to publish their thoughts and views on topics, especially online. This means the amount of misinformation available can be overwhelming. It's important to build skills that allow you to tell whether the information you're receiving is of a high quality. 

Evaluate information

Use the CRAP test to evaluate any resources you want to use in your assessments.

Criteria Ask Yourself Example
Currency
  • 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

vs

Social media in education -  older resources may not be appropriate

Reliability
  • 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?

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

vs

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

Authority
  • 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?

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

vs

A peer reviewed article written by a team of university academics

Purpose
  • 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?

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

vs

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

Understanding Health Research

Understanding Health Research: A Tool for Making Sense of Health Studies "is a tool designed to help people understand and review published health research to decide how dependable and relevant a piece of research is". The Review a Study module guides you through a series of questions about a piece of research you have found, and helps you to evaluate the quality of the research.

Evaluating information