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Arts & American Culture: How to Find and Evaluate Sources

An overview of how the arts & popular culture deeply impacted American society.

Finding and Evaluating Sources

In academia, a vital component in creating research papers is learning how to cite and evaluate sources. A good method of doing so is through the CRAPP test:


Currency - is the information up-to-date? The cutoff for how "relevant" a particular source is debatable. Most scholars say that sources should be only a few years old at the very most, others argue that that is even too old for a sources, as worldviews and facts can change even over short time periods.

Relevance- How important is the source in question to your paper at hand? Does it provide vital information, or it is mainly "bunk," so to speak? Being able to tell which is so can be baffling for many people, but it is possible to find a proper source.

Authority- Is it from a reputable source? Many websites can have a political/cultural leaning, so depending on their bias, they could favor one worldview over another. Some websites, both from far-left or far-right, can post rather dubious claims that may or may not be rooted in conspiracy theories. Likewise, websites like Wikipedia are free-to-use for anyone to post information, making it a dubious source for academic endeavors.

Accuracy- Is the information in question correct? Due to the nature of the internet, there can be plenty of information around that has not been confirmed to be accurate.

Purpose- the reason information exists. Three are three basic purposes for information in question to exist: to entertain, to inform and to persuade. Entertainment text is too frivolous to exist, so it doesn't apply here. However, with informative and persuading text, there is a thin line. A source could look educational but could be really promoting an ideological perspective that may not be accurate. Students need to stay on the lookout for such type of texts.

How to Cite Sources in MLA Format:
Author: Surname first, then first name

Title of Source: Typically italicized

Other contributors: If applicable

Source: Title of book, work, or video, or recording it was from

Date: date, Month, Year it was made

Webpage: If applicable

In APA Format (Text):

Author's last name,

Year of Publication,

Page number,

eg (Jones, 2019, pg. 30)

In APA Format (Sources):
Author's Name (Reversed Order)

Year Published