POLS 1301 American Government

C.R.A.A.P.: Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose

Choosing articles or books for a research project? Your professor will expect you to justify your choices. Be prepared to answer the following about each item.


Currency: Is the information recent enough for your topic/field of research? Does recent matter?


Was this published within an appropriate number of years or around the time of an original event?


Relevancy: Does the information apply to your topic?


Is it a primary or secondary source?

How much of the information applies to your topic?

Is the information general or detailed, balanced or biased?


Authority: Who authored this information? Are they a trustworthy source of information?


Was it a single person or several people?

Was it a corporation or organization?

Are their credentials provided?

Are methods/references provided?

Was this peer-reviewed?

What is the domain? (Many Internet sources are not reviewed before being posted; however, government, educational, and organizational sites often have some sort of review process. If no review process is stated or evident, you may assume there is none.)

  • .GOV = government
  • .COM = business
  • .ORG = organization
  • .EDU = educational affiliation
  • .NET = network


Accuracy: Is the information still factually correct?

Are there any errors in the information?

Does the site employ fact-checking for the website?


Purpose: Why was this written?


Who is the intended audience?

Is the information intended to inform, persuade, sell, entertain?

Is this a first-hand account of an event or research?

Does the author have a vested interest in the topic?

Your Analysis

For each article:

  • What is the main point?
  • What are the major arguments or hypotheses?
  • What evidence does the author provide?
  • What conclusions are reached?
  • What purpose does this article have? E.g. inform, persuade, convince, sell.

When comparing articles:

  • How are the articles similar?
  • How are the articles different?
  • Did the authors reach the same or conflicting conclusions about the current event?
  • Did one or both of the authors seem biased in any way? E.g., toward or against the issue, individual, policy or party?
  • If an article is an editorial, how does that influence the tone and purpose?
  • Did one author seem to favor a certain policy outcome more or less than the other author?

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