11 Researching and Evaluating Sources with CRAAP

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Identify the types of sources that are acceptable in professional writing
  • Locate sources using the Confederation College library catalog
  • Use CRAAP criteria to evaluate sources to ensure that they are appropriate for your audience and purpose
  • Create an annotated bibliography to summarize and evaluate your sources

You will often be required to do research to complete assignments in college and reports in the workplace. When you do research, it is important that you take information from good, reliable sources.

Types of Sources

There are three different categories of sources: primary, secondary, and tertiary. [1]

Sources include information published in print or online journals, magazines, websites, newspapers, books, textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, dissertations, or government documents. Sources also include information given at conference proceedings or in videos, podcasts, or lecture presentations. Sources might be published and in print (like a book), published and online (like a website), or unpublished (like a professor’s PowerPoint presentation).

In short, a source is the place where you have located research or information: it is the source of the information.

No matter what type of source you use, you must make sure that your source is appropriate for your audience and purpose, and you must cite your source to give credit to the original creator. Failure to cite sources is a form of academic dishonesty called plagiarism.

Finding Sources

A great place to find good sources is the Confederation College library catalog. Watch this video by Confederation College[2] to learn how to conduct an effective search using the Confederation College databases!


Evaluating Sources

Watch this video to learn about the CRAAP method to evaluate a source [3]. Also check out The Learning Portal resource evaluation page to evaluate the quality of the sources you use.

Learning Check

Tip: Use this checklist from Benedictine University Library[4] to evaluate your sources.

Creating Annotated Bibliographies

When you have a large research assignment, it is important to use a system to keep track of all of your source information.  After you’ve chosen a research question and you’ve found some credible sources, you might create an annotated bibliography for each source.

An annotated bibliography is comprised of three main parts: Source Information, Summary, and Analysis.

1. Source Information

Create the APA reference for your source reference at the top of the page so that you can easily locate your source if you need to refer to it again later (and so that you have the APA reference information handy to make it easier to create in-text citations and a reference list). For more information on how to create an APA reference, review the the chapters on APA formatting, citations, and references.

2. Summary

Summarize the information in the source that is relevant to answering your research question. If only one part of the source is relevant to your question, only summarize that part. Focus on relaying research findings rather than explaining research methodology (unless your research question is about methodology!). Use your own words and include APA in-text citations for all paraphrased information. For more information on how to write a good summary, review the videos and tips in the chapter on Reflective Writing.

3. Analysis

Use the C.R.A.A.P. criteria to evaluate the source and to explain why you chose to use this source to answer your research question. If the source isn’t credible and highly relevant to your research question, then you shouldn’t be using it.

By creating an annotated bibliography for every source you plan to use in a larger research paper, you can easily share your research with others (like your teacher or group members), help you keep track of your sources, and make it easier for you to create accurate citations in your final paper.

Watch this 3-minute video by Santiago Canyon College[5] to learn more about annotated bibliographies:


  1. University of Minnesota Crookston. (2015, July 15). Primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. https://www.crk.umn.edu/library/primary-secondary-and-tertiary-sources.
  2. Freeman, K. (2023). Research effectively using the Confederation College library databases [video]

    . YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIIhySuw4Q0

  3. Peirce College Library. (2018, December 4). The CRAAP test video [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikTdoe7s1qI.
  4. Checklist published by Benedictine University Library and adapted from Davis, Dell M., “Evaluating Resources.” Empowering Students: Hands-on Library Instruction Exercises., 1996. 189-190; and Hairston, Maxine, John Ruszkiewicz, and Christy Friend. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers. 6th ed., 2002.
  5. Santiago Canyon College. (2017, October 17). What is an annotated bibliography? [video] . YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwPMnNgvh4&t=11s


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