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Catherine McAuley College: Selecting

Welcome to your digital library


Selecting: What information do I really need to use? What information can I leave out? How relevant is the information I have found? How credible (correct) is the information I have found? How will I write up the information I have found? Do I know how to take notes?

Is it good information?


Watch this!

What can I use?

Wherever your information comes from you need to be able to understand and select according to the topic. Use the keywords that you made during step 1, they will help you focus when reading through all the resources.

  • Scan your resources looking through the contents, chapter headings, diagrams, indexes etc. 
  • Focus on the who, what,why, where, when and how as you read, view, listen, interview, think and write.
  • Don't start reading for the sake of reading, use your keywords.
  • Scan the resource - concentrate, skim read looking for likely bits (keeping in mind the keywords)
  • Don't let your mind wander, force your eyes to zoom through the resource
  • As you research make sure you ask yourself, who wrote this? Where does it come from? 
  • Think about how you are going to remember what you have read and found?

The CRAAP Test

You will find a range of material which need to be assessed to see if it is actually useful to include.  The following criteria will help you make decisions about the material that you are trying to assess.




The timeliness of the information

Ask yourself these questions:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Is the source current or out-of-date for the subject or topic?
  • Has the source been revised, updated, or expanded in a subsequent edition?
  • (If you are using the web:) Are the links to other sources functional?




The importance of the information for your needsHoria Varlan 2008, 'Question Mark', CC Licence: BY 2.0, Image Source: Flickr

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • How does the source work with other resources you are using?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level? (ie not too elementary or advanced for your needs)
  • Is the content appropriate for your research topic or assignment?
  • Who is the author/ publisher/ source/ sponsor of the information source?




The source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials?Rickvanderzwet 2006, 'Mortarboard', CC Licence: CC0 1.0, Image Source: Open Clip Art Library
  • What is the author's reputation among his/her peers?
  • Does the resource have a reputable organisation or expert behind it?
  • Is the author associated with an educational institution or well known organisation?
  • Is there contact information for author/ publisher/ sponsor?




The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the contentScott_Kirkwood 2009, 'Scales', CC Licence: CC0 1.0, Image Source: Open Clip Art Library

  • Where does the information come from and is it supported by evidence??
  • Can you verify any of the information?
  • Has the author used good grammar? Are there spelling or typographical errors?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?




The reason the information existsJ_Alves 2010, 'Target', CC Licence: CC0 1.0, Image Source: Open Clip Art Library

  • What is the purpose of the information? Why was it written?
  • Does the author exhibit a particular bias? (Political, ideological, cultural, religious or personal)
  • Is the viewpoint of the author's affiliation/ sponsors reflected in the message or content?