Professional Communication

Evaluating Resources

This chapter describes why valid resources are important, and how to evaluate potential resources. You’ll have a chance to test your knowledge, and then practice evaluating resources.

Evaluating Information Resources

Research is a key part of critical thinking, which is one of the skills most valued by employers. [1] [2] Since your research is only as good as your sources, you must be sure that every resource you use is valid, current and appropriate.

Why is valid information important?

  • To make sure your content is reliable and current
  • To include experts’ experience, opinions, and research
  • To eliminate unreliable, biased, outdated, and/or incorrect information[3]
  • To understand all sides of a topic
  • Because your boss, clients and/or colleagues depend on the information you provide

How do I know if my information is valid?

As you know, anyone can publish anything online. So before we use a resource, we need to evaluate it to make sure it’s valid, current, relevant and accurate. When you evaluate a resource, ask questions such as:

  • Who wrote or recorded it?
  • Where did they get their information?
  • How current is it?
  • Is the information relevant to your topic?
  • What is the author’s bias? Why did they create and publish this resource?

How can I evaluate a resource?

The 5 Ws

The 5 Ws [4] is a great method for evaluating resources. (Click on each W for more information)

The CRAAP Test

Don’t be fooled by its fun name – The CRAAP test is an excellent tool for evaluating potential resources.

Is Wikipedia a good resource?

No. And yes.

Because Wikipedia is crowd-sourced (meaning anyone can edit it anytime) it might contain incorrect information. In reality, incorrect content is usually quickly corrected. But because there’s a risk of finding incorrect information, don’t use it as your only resource. Don’t cite Wikipedia in discussion, papers or reports.

However, Wikipedia is a great place to start your research, especially if you know very little about the topic. It typically provides clear overviews and descriptions. (Simple Wikipedia is even more clear, because it uses simple words and grammar.) And most entries include, at the bottom of the page, a References list of primary resources that typically pass the 5 Ws and CRAAP tests.

So use Wikipedia to understand your topic, and then to find useful primary resources. But don’t cite Wikipedia or use it as a primary resource.

What about Chegg and other “study help” sites?

No. Much of the content on sharing sites is anonymous. You can’t know if the content is accurate, current or reliable. We’ve seen lots of incorrect, out of date, and poorly-written content. Use reliable resources instead of sharing sites that aren’t validated.


 Self-assessment 


  Canadian Workplace Quiz 


  1. "Employability Skills," The Conference Board of Canada, Last accessed February 24, 2020, https://www.conferenceboard.ca/edu/employability-skills.aspx
  2. AMA Staff, "AMA Critical Skills Survey: Workers Need Higher Level Skills to Succeed in the 21st Century", American Management Association, Last accessed February 24, 2020, https://www.amanet.org/articles/ama-critical-skills-survey-workers-need-higher-level-skills-to-succeed-in-the-21st-century/
  3. Healey Library, "Why Is It Important To Evaluate Sources?", University of Massachusetts Boston, Last updated Dec 11, 2019, https://umb.libguides.com/module6
  4. "Evaluating Your Sources, Langara Library," Last accessed February 24, 2020, https://langara.ca/library/research-help/evaluate-your-sources.html

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Professional Business Practice by Lucinda Atwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.