3 Critical thinking and information

Learning Objectives

In this chapter you will learn

  • How to evaluate information and why this is important


Being able to evaluate information is an important part of critical thinking. Critical thinking is an essential skill to develop and apply during your third-level education and will come in useful as a skill for employment and in general for making your way in a world awash with fake news, deep fakes, and misinformation. Scholarly information is not immune – some of the world’s most long-standing hoaxes are rooted in bad science, for example in poorly conducted research that has had to be retracted from scholarly journals.

Evaluating Information

The following video explains the importance of ‘information literacy,’ which is critical thinking applied in particular to the world of information. It explains concepts such as ‘currency’ and ‘authority’ as part of a test that you can use to help think through the quality of information to evaluate it: the CRAAP test.



‘Scholarly’ information is information written by specialists of a particular field, usually someone holding a PhD in that field and who works at a third-level institution. In terms of the CRAAP test, scholarly information scores particularly high on ‘A’ for ‘Authority.’ This is the case not just because it is written by specialists, but because it usually goes through a process of what is called ‘peer-review.’ Peer-review refers to when where other specialists in the same field do a thorough check of a scholarly researchers work before it is then published as a journal article, book chapter, or occasionally other formats, as explained in the previous page.


The CRAAP Test

What is the CRAAP test? Developed by the Library at California State University, Chico, the CRAAP test is a handy checklist for critically evaluating web sources (or indeed ANY sources) for use in your assignments. The test provides a list of questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not a source is reliable and credible enough to use in your assignment. CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.  For more information, please see below.


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