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NRS538 Research Skills Guide: The CARP test

INTRODUCTION TO THE CARP TEST

The CARP test (sometimes called the CRAP test) is a set of criteria you can use to evaluate most types of information sources, including journal articles, books and even websites. It will help you to decide whether an information source is of suitable academic quality to be used in your assessment tasks.

You don't have pull out a checklist for every source you find, but knowing what the CARP test is and how it is applied to evaluating information will help you to evaluate sources as you go.

THE CARP TEST

How do you assess resources? Try the CARP test, which involves asking these questions:

Currency

  • When was it written?
  • Is it current enough for your topic? Older material might be alright for an essay on the history of management theories, but anything pre-2007 would be too old for an essay on the use of social media marketing.
  • If you aren't sure, the rule of thumb is to use resources that were published in the past five years.

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author?
  • Do they have qualifications and/or affiliations relevant to the subject area? Articles in scholarly journals often provide a short author profile, or at least the author's affiliation (the organisation they are affiliated with).
  • Are there any experts in the field that you should look up? Has you lecturer recommended any known authors? Can you search for books, book chapters, or articles by them?
  • In the case of a journal article, is it from a peer-reviewed journal?

Reliability

  • Is the source reputable? Is the journal peer-reviewed, or is it published by an academic institution or by a professional association?
  • Is its content the author's opinion or have they offered evidence? Is it balanced?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations? Do those references pass the CARP test?

Purpose

  • Is this fact or opinion?
  • Is it biased?
  • Is the creator or author trying to sell you something?

EVALUATING INFORMATION

Watch the video tutorial below to learn more about evaluating information for your assessment tasks.

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