Library Website: Research & Referencing - How Can I How Tell if Information is Reliable?

 How can I tell if information is reliable?

 Back to Research & Referencing

                            Resource Guides
                            Books & eBooks
Articles & Reports 
                            Video Streaming
Research & Referencing
chat loading...

Have a question? Chat with the Library from 8:30am - 5pm Monday - Thursday and 8:30am - 4pm on Fridays

You can also check our FAQs for answers


When you search, remember that not all resources contain quality information. Some information may be inaccurate, biased, misleading, outdated, or irrelevant.

It is important to critically evaluate the information that you find to ensure that you use the best sources in your research/assignment.

There are two essential tools you can use to find reliable and reputable information: the CRAAP test and Lateral Reading.


The CRAAP Test: 

Evaluate your sources using the CRAAP test to find reliable, quality information.

The CRAAP test is a simple tool/process you can use to determine whether a source you have found is reliable and/or accurate. Click through the following tabs to see what CRAAP acronym stands for and the steps you should take when selecting resources: 

Currency: The timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?   


Here's a short clip on the effectiveness of evaluating information. 

Relevance: The importance/relationship of the information

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level for your understanding and studies? 
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the source you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: The source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Can you identify the author's credentials or expertise?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there any contact information available on the source such as a publisher and their location, or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
    •  For example:
      • .com (commercial source)
      • .edu (educational source) 
      • .gov (government source)
      • .org (nonprofit organisation) 
      • .net (network source)

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or referenced?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors? If there are, perhaps the source is unreliable/inaccurate. 

Purpose: The reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Does the author make their intention/purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial? 
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases? 

Lateral Reading: 

Another technique that you can use to evaluate the sources you find is called lateral reading. This technique focuses on verifying a source as you are reading it. Evaluating where information comes from is a crucial part of deciding whether it is useful or right for your research.

The ART of reading laterally: 

Before reading vertically, open some tabs and start reading laterally. This means to begin searching about what you are reading. Some questions you might ask during lateral reading are: 

  • Who is the author? What can you learn about them? Is there bias?
  • How recent is the site? Has it been updated?
  • Who is the author or publisher targeting?


Here's a short clip on lateral reading. 

 Build Your Skills Here

Click on the following images to widen your understand using our Learning Lounge modules. 

               What is media literacy?               What tools can I use to find reliable and reputable information?