When choosing a resource, it is important to determine the credibility and reliability of that resource. To do that, we recommend the CRAP test:
For example, let's perform the CRAP test on the following resource:
Research Topic: Bariatric Surgery as a medical treatment for obese patients with diabetes.
Currency: This article was published in 2014, so it is relatively current. If your professors have provided you with a time limit for your resources, such as articles published within the last 5 years, this article may be slightly too old for your needs. Depending on your research topic and the guidelines of your professors, you may want only the most current information. However, some aspects of research, such as looking at the history of a certain topic, may require you to look at some older materials. So, the currency need of your sources depends heavily on your research topic and the guidelines established by your professors.
Relevancy/Reliability: The main subject headings of this article are Bariatric Surgery, Diabetes Mellitus, Obesity, and Decision Making, all of which deal directly with our research topic. 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 that informs us of the author's credentials. This particular article does have that information (quoted below) and it appears that all of our authors hold faculty positions at medical schools and two appear to be practicing physicians. 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.
Purpose/Point-of-view: It is important to understand if the author(s) has any bias towards the topic. Are they presenting their research or are they trying to persuade you? This article gives us opposing research, for and against this particular medical procedure. The article also provides us with a declaration of interests for each of the authors so you can be aware of any bias that may exist towards the topic. 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! Check to make sure that the date of the work does not go against the guidelines your professor has established.