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BIO 112: Cells, Genes, and Inheritance (GMO) Genetically Modified Organisms: Evaluating Sources

Finding "Good" Information

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the quality of a particular reference you'd like to use in your paper.  Here are some considerations to help you evaluate those sources. 

  • Credibility/authority- Who is writing?  Who is she/he affiliated with?  What gives him/her the knowledge/understanding to write about the topic?
  •  Currency/Timeliness- Is this resource current? Does it matter? Is there a more current resource out there?
  •  Publisher- Who published this work?  How do they accept/review/monitor the content that they publish? (i.e., do they peer review?)
  • Audience- Who will read this work?  Who is the intended audience?  Is the level of quality appropriate for the quality of your paper?
  •  Format- Is this available print or electronically? How does it affect the audience (who will have access)? Is it free or fee-based?  Does it matter? 

Using the CRAAP Tool


Questions to Ask


  • When was the source written and published?
  • Has the information been updated recently?
  • Is currency pertinent to your research?


  • Does the source cover your research topic comprehensively or only cover one aspect?
  • To what extent does the source answer your research question?
  • Is the source considered popular or scholarly?
  • Is the terminology and language used easy to understand?
  • Does the source meet the requirements of your research assignment?


  • Who is the author (person, company, or organization)?
  • Does the source provide any information that leads you to believe the author is credible or an expert on the topic?
  • Can you describe the author's background (experience, education, knowledge)?
  • Does the author provide citations? Do you think they are reputable?


  • Can facts or statistics be verified through another source?
  • Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate? Does it match the information found in other sources?
  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors?


  • What is the purpose or motive for the source (educational, commercial, entertainment, promotional, etc.)?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the author pretending to be objective, but really trying to persuade, promote or sell something?
  • Does the source seem biased?

Evaluating a Journal's Impact

Primary vs Secondary

Predatory Journals

Fake academic journals, also known as predatory, fraudulent, deceptive, or pseudo-journals, are publications that claim to be legitimate scholarly journals but misrepresent their publishing practices. These journals are primarily designed to extract publication fees from authors. 

Use this website to test for Predatory Journals : (

Here are some signs that a journal might be predatory:
•    The website mimics high quality journals
•    There is no detail of the peer review process
•    Fees are unclear
•    There is no or fake editorial board
•    There are lies about indexing
•    The journal is not listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
•    The journal is not listed in Ulrichs, which is an authoritative source on publisher information, including Open Access titles 
Predatory journals also:
•    Do not engage in peer review
•    Have minimal or little copy edits
•    Take advantage of authors by asking them to publish for a fee without providing peer-review or editing services
•    Usually offer a quick turnaround on publishing a manuscript 
Here are some ways to tell if a journal is legitimate:
•    Review past issues
•    Check if the content looks topical and credible
•    Check if the authors are known to you
•    Check if the journal is registered in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
•    Check if the website provides complete contact information
•    Check if the journal is indexed by databases in your library and Google Scholar


The credibility of your assignment rests on the credibility of the resources you have used in it to support your arguments. Before you include a resource in your assignment you will need to evaluate it to consider if it is appropriate for a university level assignment. Below is a figure that might help you further understand credibility of sources. For more information on evaluating authority, bias, accuracy, currency, utility and peer-review click on this link.





What is the intended audience?


What's the source's authority?  Is it peer-reviewed?

Is the content biased? bias

How accurate is it?


How current is the information?


Content reproduced with permission of James Cook University

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