Research Hub: How to Identify Credible and Untrustworthy Sources
As a college student, writing assignments are inescapable; so when the time comes for you to write a paper that requires you to find sources, you want to make sure that they are credible and reliable!
The first step to researching reliable sources is figuring out where you are going to search for them. Luckily, the Reedley College Website provides different databases for you to search from that provide different types of information depending on the database you choose. The most popular database for students to use is Academic Search Complete aka EBSCO Host. When searching from this database (or any database), make sure to use advanced search to narrow down your search options to the most relevant sources. This will save you time from having to scroll through articles that don’t fit with what you are looking for.
If you find that you are unable to find any good sources from this database, don’t feel obligated to stick to this one. Each database listed on the website has its own description of what type of information it will provide. As a former student of Reedley College, I often used EBSCO Host along with other databases when looking for sources. I have used CREDO for my communications and psychology papers. I have also used CQ Researcher for argumentative topics. If you still find yourself having trouble finding information in these databases, feel free to contact your instructor or designated embedded tutor for advice on what databases to check out.
Once you have chosen a place to search, make sure to follow the C.R.A.A.P (!) method when looking at sources. Look for...
Currency: How old is this information? As time passes, information could become outdated and inaccurate so watch out for older sources and make sure they are still true to this day.
Relevance: Does the information provided relate to my topic? You may find a source that passes all other parts of the C.R.A.A.P. test, but if it isn’t relevant enough to your topic then it will be of no use to you.
Authority: Who is providing this information? Do they have the credentials/skills/background to discuss this topic? Is the author/publisher/organization/sponsor reliable enough to provide this information?
Accuracy: What evidence or experts does this source use to back up its’ information? Look out for statistics, graphs, and other types of evidence. Check the correctness of grammar and language used within the source as well.
Purpose: Why has this information been gathered into this source? Some sources may provide incomplete or false information if their intentions for spreading information are based on personal gain. Figuring out if their intentions are to sell, inform, entertain, teach, etc. could help you spot any faulty information.
View the video below from Western University for more information and tips on this method of evaluating sources:
Kurpiel, Sarah. “Evaluating Sources: The Craap Test.” Research Guides, 2021,
“Evaluating Sources.” YouTube, Western University, 13 Jan. 2012,