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Evaluating online information sources: The CRAAP Checklist

It can be hard to know when a story is true or not. This is the case for adults too. We need a reliable way to separate truth from fiction! In the next two lessons, we’ll focus on one way: collecting information.

One effective way to find out if something is true or not is to try to find more information on the topic. However, we still want to make sure that the information we collect is trustworthy. Sometimes even the most basic of facts are up for debate and it's hard to tell the difference between fake and real information. Without good, accurate information, you can’t learn - and worse, you’ll believe in something that is wrong. There are a few ways that you can check if the information you come across is accurate. The CRAAP checklist is one of them.

The CRAAP checklist is an evaluation method that helps you know where and how to find trustworthy information. The CRAAP checklist is called this because each letter stands for something you should look for in reliable information.

The person/site/article that provides information is called a “source”, since they are the “source” of your information. Put another way, the source is where the information was found.

C - Currency 

Is the information current? Is it up-to-date? 

You should find out when the information was created. This is important because accurate information changes over time. Old information might be out-of-date and not accurate anymore. For example, did you know that we used to think that smoking was good for you? Crazy right? We now know better - but if you came across an old article about smoking, they might say it’s good for you. This is why it’s important to look for up-to-date information.

R - Relevance

Is the information relevant to your topic?

Let’s say you were researching whether smoking is good or bad for your health. If you came across an article about how to reduce the smell of smoke, it might be interesting, but it is not relevant to your topic. Make sure that the information you are looking at helps you answer your question on the topic.

A - Accuracy

Does the information tell the truth?

When you don’t know the topic, it can be hard to know if the information is true. Anyone on the internet can have a site about anything, and can make up fake information. There are a few things that can help you know if what you are reading is fake.

  • Look for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
    • Good information is written by respected scientists. Respected scientists don’t make many spelling mistakes or grammar mistakes. If you see many mistakes, this is definitely a sign that the site is untrustworthy.
  • Look for information that is consistent with other sources
    • If you come across a website or article that has completely different information from everyone else, it might indicate that it is untrustworthy. Carefully consider why they disagree with everyone else. What is more likely: that this one person is correct and everyone else is wrong, or that everyone else is right and this one person is wrong?
    • See if they have listed their own sources. If they don’t, you should be careful. They might be making things up (by the way, you can see KBI’s sources on our sources page!).

A - Author

Who wrote/recorded/made the information?

The author of an article can often indicate whether the information is good or not. The author can be an organization, a group, or a person. Are they an expert in the field? If not, do they cite (ask, quote, or listen to) experts in that field? You want to make sure that the people writing the article (or making the video, or podcast etc) know what they are talking about.

P - Purpose

Why was this information created?

It’s important to consider why a piece of information exists. Did they create the article to sell you something? Are they trying to convince you to do something?

 

All lessons & quizzes are free!

 This was just one of the lessons in our Critical Thinking section. There are over 60 lessons on Kids Boost Immunity just like this one on a variety of subjects. Each lesson includes a quiz, and every time a student scores 80% or higher on a quiz, we will donate life-saving vaccines to UNICEF Canada. Sign up now!

To see other sample lessons, click here.

Last modified: 
Oct 12, 2019