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Legal Writing


You can use the TRAP test to evaluate whether a specific resource is appropriate for your purposes, whether it is a scholarly publication, news source, or web content.

T - timeliness

  • 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?

R - reliability

  • 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?

A - authority 

  • 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 .edu .gov .org .net

P - purpose

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • 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? 
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Adapted from "Evaluating Information – Applying the CRAAP Test" by the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico.

Crash Course: Navigating Digital Information

Crash Course has partnered with Mediawise and the Stanford History Education Group to make this 10-part series on Navigating Digital Information

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Examine information using the same skills and questions as fact-checkers
  • Read laterally to learn more about the authority and perspective of sources
  • Evaluate different types of evidence, from videos to infographics
  • Understand how search engines and social media feeds work
  • Break bad internet habits like impatience and passivity, and build better ones