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CI 5328/3338: Social Studies: Information Literacy

Evaluating Information

A significant, though under appreciated, element of research is evaluated the information that is uncovered by your research. Below you can find a quick tool to help with the process.

Also, it is important to remember that the evaluation of information shouldn't stop at scholarly pursuits, but be maintained when consuming information on current events. Many of the same techniques will apply. 

The TRAAP Test

The TRAAP Test is an easy to remember acronym that will allow you to quickly analyze information found online and elsewhere.  


T - Timeliness: How current is the information?

     - When was the information published?

     - Have more recent editions been published?

     - Has more current research on the topic been published?

R - Relevant: Does this information relate to the topic you are researching?

     - Does this information help guide you to a hypothesis?

     - Is this information too general to help with your research? Is it, perhaps, too detailed?

A - Authority: What/Who is the source of the information?

     - What are the author's credentials?

     - Is the author an expert on the topic? Have they published other research on the topic?

     - Is the work peer-reviewed or refereed? (Check UlrichsWeb to determine the status of the periodical)

A - Accuracy: Is this information reliable?

     - Where does the information come from?

     - Is the information cited?

     - Do other, similar publications on the topic provide reasonably similar information?

P - Purpose: Why was this information created? 

     - Is the information intended to inform, persuade, entertain, or sell?

     - Who is the intended audience? Is the information presented for the general public or for a scholarly audience?

     - Are there any perspectives or scenarios omitted from the publication? Why would this be the case?

ACRL - Information Literacy Competency Standards For Higher Education

From the Association of College and Research Libraries' Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education:

Standard Three

"The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.


Performance Indicators:

  1. The information literate student summarizes the main ideas to be extracted from the information gathered.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Reads the text and selects main ideas
    2. Restates textual concepts in his/her own words and selects data accurately
    3. Identifies verbatim material that can be then appropriately quoted
  2. The information literate student articulates and applies initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Examines and compares information from various sources in order to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias
    2. Analyzes the structure and logic of supporting arguments or methods
    3. Recognizes prejudice, deception, or manipulation
    4. Recognizes the cultural, physical, or other context within which the information was created and understands the impact of context on interpreting the information
  3. The information literate student synthesizes main ideas to construct new concepts.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Recognizes interrelationships among concepts and combines them into potentially useful primary statements with supporting evidence
    2. Extends initial synthesis, when possible, at a higher level of abstraction to construct new hypotheses that may require additional information
    3. Utilizes computer and other technologies (e.g. spreadsheets, databases, multimedia, and audio or visual equipment) for studying the interaction of ideas and other phenomena
  4. The information literate student compares new knowledge with prior knowledge to determine the value added, contradictions, or other unique characteristics of the information.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Determines whether information satisfies the research or other information need
    2. Uses consciously selected criteria to determine whether the information contradicts or verifies information used from other sources
    3. Draws conclusions based upon information gathered
    4. Tests theories with discipline-appropriate techniques (e.g., simulators, experiments)
    5. Determines probable accuracy by questioning the source of the data, the limitations of the information gathering tools or strategies, and the reasonableness of the conclusions
    6. Integrates new information with previous information or knowledge
    7. Selects information that provides evidence for the topic
  5. The information literate student determines whether the new knowledge has an impact on the individual’s value system and takes steps to reconcile differences.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Investigates differing viewpoints encountered in the literature
    2. Determines whether to incorporate or reject viewpoints encountered
  6. The information literate student validates understanding and interpretation of the information through discourse with other individuals, subject-area experts, and/or practitioners.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Participates in classroom and other discussions
    2. Participates in class-sponsored electronic communication forums designed to encourage discourse on the topic (e.g., email, bulletin boards, chat rooms)
    3. Seeks expert opinion through a variety of mechanisms (e.g., interviews, email, listservs)
  7. The information literate student determines whether the initial query should be revised.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Determines if original information need has been satisfied or if additional information is needed
    2. Reviews search strategy and incorporates additional concepts as necessary
    3. Reviews information retrieval sources used and expands to include others as needed"



Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Retrieved      from