The number of times a student or client has shared an article with me and asked “is this true?” is far beyond my ability to keep track. Fortunately, a friend and former colleague shared with me a useful test to help students determine if what they find is actually worth a CRAAP. Although the CRAAP test is widely used throughout institutions of higher learning across the country, I find it equally valuable when working with clients.
What is the CRAAP Test For?
The CRAAP test was developed by a group of librarians out of California State University, Chico a handful of years ago and it’s genius! Plus, the acronym is funny.
What do the letters in the CRAAP acronym stand for?
- Currency. When was the information published? Is it timely?
- Relevancy. How important is the information to your specific needs?
- Authority. Who is the source or author?
- Accuracy. Is the information reliable and truthful? Can you verify it with other sources?
- Purpose. Why does the information exist? Is it to sell, inform, teach, etc.?
How to Apply the CRAAP Test with Clients
As personal trainers, we are part coach, part confident, and part teacher. Not only do we cue exercise form, modify programs, assess and reassess client fitness levels, we educate. As much as we train clients physically, we need to train them intellectually and that means helping them learn to question what they read rather than believing it.
The CRAAP test is an easy to follow and logical test that will accomplish that very task.
First, assign a value to each of the five categories (a Likert scale of 1-5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent).
Next, evaluate the source’s qualities as they relate to each category.
After you address each question in each category, give the overall category a 1-5 based on how well you could answer the questions. In other words, does the site or source give you enough information to thoroughly evaluate the information it contains? If you find that you are short of information or you can’t verify the information the source includes with other sources, move on.
Threats to Information Quality
In addition to working within the categories of the CRAAP test, keep in mind the following major red flags.
- No author listed or an author who doesn’t list his or her credentials, which allow readers to verify how he or she knows the information being presented
- Does the source seem to be all about commerce and selling “stuff”?
- Broken links
- Serious spelling errors
- Does it seem biased?
- For research studies, who funded the project? If the same person funded it as who published it and it is a study revealing nothing but positive results for a dietary supplement, don’t automatically trust it.
As a personal trainer, you can and should argue that the abundance of information found online is less important than the quality of information. Information is available everywhere and, unfortunately, we cannot trust every source that finds its way to the web. Help your clients apply this test and teach them if they can’t trust it, they need to trash it.