Evaluating Sources Using the CARP Test
There are many different methods for evaluating sources of information. The CARP Test is a way to evaluate an information source based on the following criteria: Currency, Authority, Relevance & Reliability, and Purpose/Point of View. Use the questions below to determine whether a source is providing quality information — or if something seems a little “fishy”…
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated? When?
- Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
- Websites – are the links functional?
- Who is the author/creator?
- What are their credentials? Are they qualified to write about this topic? Can they be contacted?
- Are they affiliated with any groups or organizations?
- Who is the publisher or sponsor?
RELEVANCE & RELIABILITY
- Does the information relate to your topic or help answer your question? (Note: this doesn’t mean that the information agrees with your argument)
- Is the information at the appropriate level for your research?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Where does the information come from? Does the author provide references or sources?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed? By whom?
- Do you feel comfortable using this source in your research? Would your professor accept it?
PURPOSE/POINT OF VIEW
- What is the information meant to do to the reader?
- Inform, teach, sell, entertain, persuade?
- Does the author or sponsor clearly state their intentions or purpose?
- Is the information fact or opinion? Propaganda?
- Does the point of view seem to be objective and impartial?
- What biases might the author or sponsor have?
- Political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, personal?
- Are there any ads? How do they relate to the topic being covered?
- Websites – what does the URL and/or domain tell you about the purpose?
- Examples: .com – commercial; .gov – government; .org – organization (but what kind of organization are they?)
Click here to learn about evaluating sources using the 5 Ws.
Last edited 10/16/13 (LP)
Adapted from source evaluation tests by Dominican University and CSU-Chico