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DNP - Library Resources: Evaluating Resources

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  If you can't find a date on a website, beware; the information on the site might very well be out-of-date.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.
    • Ask yourself, "Does the abstract primarily deal with the topic you are researching?"
  • 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:

Andrews, R. C., Chen, M. Z., & Logue, J. (2014). “Bariatric surgery for type 2 diabetes always produces a good outcome.” Practical Diabetes, 31(9), 376–380. https://doi.org/10.1002/pdi.1907

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. 

  • Dr. Robert C. Andrews - School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol UK and Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Taunton, UK
  • Dr. Mimi Z. Chen - School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol UK and Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust, Bath, UK
  • Dr. Jennifer Logue - Clinical Senior Lecturer in Metabolic Medicine, Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK

​​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.   

  • Dr. Andrews is a principal investigator on the National Institute for Health Research HTA-funded By-Band study: gastric bypass or adjustable gastric band surgery to treat morbid obesity.
  • Dr. Chen has no conflict of interests.
  • Dr. Logue is Chief Investigator of the NIHR funded Surgical Obesity Treatment Study, a prospective cohort study on the long-term outcomes from bariatric surgery.

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.

Evaluation Criteria Tutorial

Evaluation Criteria Tutorial

What is Peer Reviewed?