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Business Research

This guide was designed to help business students understand the basics of how to perform academic research.

The C.R.A.P. Test

When choosing a resource, it is important to determine the credibility and reliability of that resource.  To do that, we recommend the CRAP test: 

Currency 

  • What is the publication date?
  • and how does this date impact your topic of research?
    • Remember, newer doesn't always mean better.  The need for currency depends heavily on the topic of your paper. 
    • If you are evaluating a website, the publication or copyright date will help you determine if the site is current.  If you can't find a date on a website, beware; the information on the site might very well be out-of-date.  Broken links are another sign that the site has not been updated recently.  

Relevancy/Reliability

  • Does this resource actually deal with your topic?  
    • Be careful that you aren't choosing a resource just because it has your keyword somewhere in the title or contents. Make sure the work has a substantial portion that directly addresses your research topic.
  • Does the resource provide references for the included information?
  • When you are evaluating a website, web addresses that end in .gov and .org are typically more reliable than .com sites.  

Authority/Accuracy

  • Who is the author of the resource?  
  • Do they have substantial academic or professional experience and credentials that give them the authority to speak on this topic?
  • For websites, consider the organization associated with the site or publishing the site.

Purpose/Point-of-view

  • Why was this resource written?  To inform or persuade?  
  • Be aware of any bias that the author may have toward your subject that could taint the authority and reliability of the information provided in their work.  

Example

For example, let's perform the CRAP test on the following resource:

Bertini M, Tavassoli N. (2017). Case study: When you have to choose between core and new customers: An extreme sports company considers a VIP tier. Harvard Business Review, 95(5):143-147.

Research Topic: Promoting Customer Loyalty

Currency: This article was published in 2017, so it is very current. This article is going to provide up-to-date information pertaining to current customer loyalty initiatives. Depending on your research topic, you may want only the most current information. However, some aspects of research, such as looking at the history of customer loyalty initiatives, may require you to look at some older materials. So, the currency need of your sources depends heavily on your research topic.      

Relevancy/Reliability: The main subject headings of this article are customer loyalty and business expansion, both of which deal directly with our research which is concerned with promoting customer loyalty.  Another way to make certain that the resource is relevant to your research is to ensure that the resource's conversation centers around your topic, for example, an entire article should address your research topic or at least a whole chapter in a book.  Resources that only briefly mention your topic are not providing you with enough relevant information to truly impact your research. 

Authority/Accuracy:  It is important to know who is authoring the information you are reading.  Do they have the academic and/or professional experience to speak authoritatively about this subject area?  Authors that have academic and professional experience in the field they are writing about can be trusted to provide more accurate information.  

Sometimes, the article or book will provide a brief bio which informs us of the author's credentials.  This particular article does have that information (quoted below) and it appears that both of our authors hold faculty positions at business schools. If the resource you are evaluating does not provide biographical information about the author, perform a web search for the author in order to learn a little bit more about them. 

  • "Marco Bertini is an associate professor and heads the marketing subject area at ESADE Business School."
  • "Nader Tavassoli is a professor of marketing at London Business School and the nonexecutive chairman of the Brand Inside."

Purpose/Point-of-view: This particular article was written to share with readers a case study that students in the authors' classes use to determine how best to go about maintaining satisfaction among loyal customers while also reaching out to new customers. As a result, we can be assured that this article was written to inform the audience about the topic being discussed.   

This resource has passed the CRAP test and can be confidently used as a credible and reliable resource for our research!