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ARH102 Art History: Renaissance Through Contemporary Art (Hall)

Research guide designed for ARH102 students with links to library databases, tips for scholarly research, and detailed instruction in producing an annotated bibliography.

Points for Evaluation

For each resource you find you must evaluate both its academic rigor and its value to your particular assignment. Ask yourself a series of questions regarding each of your resources: 

  • Who created this and did they have the authority to speak wisely on this subject?
  • Where was this resource published?
  • When was this resource published?
  • How credible is the sum total of this resource? 
  • What value does this resource add to your particular assignment needs?


Can you identify the author of your information source? If no author is given, is an editor or editorial team listed?

  • Scholarly articles are written by experts in the field and their authority on a subject can usually be determined, in part, by the academic accomplishments they've received (a Master's degree; a position as a researcher at a respected university or other institution.)
  • Reference articles often do not list a specific author, but are produced by respected academic publishers or reviewed by an editor who checks the resource for accuracy.
  • Website authors or affiliations can be found in the About Us section of a website.
  • Another "who" factor to consider is - who else in the field agrees with this information? Do other scholars support or deny what this particular information source is telling you?


If you found your resource in a scholarly journal, an academic publisher's eBook, or a library database, you're on the right track. Not all journals and publications are equal, but those designed for academics are held to a higher standard than many open websites. 

That said, many more OER (open educational resources) are available now for free on the open web. These may be written by academics as well.  Identify the source of your resource. Again, look at the About Us section of a webpage for further information on what entity produced the resource.

What is the name of the journal in which it was published? Look that journal up and see what is required to meet their publication standards. If it is peer-reviewed, blind peer-reviewed, or "referreed," it has gone through a stringent process of review by experts in a field.


Every library database and book resource shows the date of publication in its catalog record. Look for this date! If a resource was published back in the 1950s that might give you pause. Then again, if it was a massively important piece of research in its time, and if many more pieces of research have sprung from it, then it might still be worth using. 

In general, though, you want up-to-date information. Just how long ago was your information resource created? There could have been more discoveries and newer ideas about your topic if the info source you chose to use is older.

CRAAP Test: Guidelines for Evaluating Websites

When evaluating websites or any other information sources, you can also use the CRAAP test to help evaluate the information you find.  Keep in mind that some items are specific to websites. This isn't so much a checklist as a way of considering information sources in context. In addition to CRAAP, there is the ABC method of evaluation for websites, which looks at authority, bias, and credibility. You will find more on the ABC method in the Evaluating Websites section of this resource guide.

Currency: The timeliness of the information. 

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?   Examples: 
    • .com - commercial site
    • .edu - school or university site
    • .gov - government website
    • .org - for-profit or non-profit organization site
Note: Domains such as .ca (Canada) or .au (Australia) are country-specific domain names. It is not easy to tell what type of organization is behind these domain names so use some of the other criteria to evaluate the website. 

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

 Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

The CRAAP test is provided by the Meriam Library California State University, Chico

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