Daytona State College librarians fighting fake news with 'CRAAP'

Cheryl Chon, Daytona State College technology services librarian / Headline SurferPhotos for Headline Surfer / At left, Cheryl Cohen, Daytona State College's technology services librarian, says a greater effort is being made to filter out fake news at the campus library for students like the one shown above making use of library services.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- It seems to be coming from everywhere, these days: A mind-bending proliferation of so-called fake news, spreading like wildfire over the Internet and social media.

Such intentional disinformation seems to be increasing frequency, it is being used to reinforce stereotypes, misrepresent cultures and belief systems and seed divisiveness. But Daytona State College’s force of librarians has been helping students dig through all the CRAAP in order to get to the truth, for years. 

No crudeness intended here.

CRAAP is a time-tested process to evaluate the validity of just about any information source, especially those found on the Internet. There’s even a song about it. And while its origins are in academia, the CRAAP test is a useful tool that can help anyone decipher truth from fiction in any forum. The acronymn stands for "Currency Relevance Authority Accuracy and Purpose."

“The idea of using what we do as librarians to help fight fake news is part of our mission to promote information literacy,” DSC Librarian Dustin Weeks said. “The CRAAP test has been around for a long time. Our instructors know it well and use it to help students find and evaluate information that is reliable and credible.”

The CRAAP test was first developed years ago by librarians at California State University who wanted to help students successfully find and evaluate sources for their research. And while the test has seen many variations over the years, by and large, if a source of information is totally CRAAP, that’s good because it means it’s “credible, relevant, authoritative, accurate and has purpose.” 

“These are the types of things you want to check for, regardless of whether your source is a book, an article, a website, a blog or a social media post,” said Cheryl Kohen, DSC’s technology services librarian. 

DSC librarians teach a one-credit hour online course called Introduction to Internet Research, which is essentially everything you need to know about the CRAAP test and more, Kohen added. The course uses a statewide curriculum adopted by all 28 institutions in the Florida College System and customized to fit each institution’s focus. 

Cheryl Kohen of Daytona State College / Headline Surfer®The CRAAP test was first developed years ago by librarians at California State University who wanted to help students successfully find and evaluate sources for their research. And while the test has seen many variations over the years, by and large, if a source of information is totally CRAAP, that’s good because it means it’s “credible, relevant, authoritative, accurate and has purpose.” 

“These are the types of things you want to check for, regardless of whether your source is a book, an article, a website, a blog or a social media post,” said Cheryl Kohen, DSC’s technology services librarian, shown here at left. 

DSC librarians teach a one-credit hour online course called Introduction to Internet Research, which is essentially everything you need to know about the CRAAP test and more, Kohen added. The course uses a statewide curriculum adopted by all 28 institutions in the Florida College System and customized to fit each institution’s focus. 

DSC also helps assure new students’ success by teaching the CRAAP test in its required Student Life Skills course for beginning associate of arts students.

Daytona State librarians have created their own resource tools, as well. These are web-based InfoGuides on wide-ranging topics and academic disciplines that contain valid articles and Internet sources. “We link to sources that will give you credible information,” Kohen said, noting that the guides mitigate some challenges students face in a digital world where disinformation can be propagated so readily.

“Information literacy has always been important,” Kohen said, “but especially today, it’s critical for students, and people in general, to be aware of their sources and to fact check the credibility of the information they’re receiving.”

FAST FACTS: CRAAP Test
Currency -- When was the information published or posted? Has the information been revised or updated? Is the information current or out-of date for your topic? Are the links functional?
Relevance -- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question? Who is the intended audience? Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)? Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use? Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
Authority -- Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor? What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations? What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic? Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address? Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? For example: .edu (educational) and .gov (government) sites usually have reliable information.
Accuracy -- 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? Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
Purpose -- What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade? Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda? Does the point of view appear objective and impartial? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases? 
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet in Daytona Beach, Florida, via HeadlineSurfer.com. Specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with dozens of journalism-industry awards.

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