Research Writing: Finding and Evaluating Sources

May 1, 2023

Writing a cohesive research paper requires an extensive amount of self-talk, self questioning, and self-monitoring. This internal language or metacognitive process can be under-developed in students with LBLD as they often allocate so much cognitive energy understanding and reading sources, as well as composing their thoughts based on this information, that they have little bandwidth remaining to consider the quality of their research or writing. Amy Gillespie Rouse and Ashley Sandoval (2018) make the following observation:

“Students with learning disabilities often have difficulty monitoring their own writing behaviors and use of cognitive strategies during the writing process (Mason, Kubina, & Taft, 2011). Perhaps as a result of their writing difficulties, students with learning disabilities often lack motivation for engaging in and completing writing tasks”

In other words: the writing process can present a challenge for students with LBLD. Specifically, the metacognitive aspects of written expression, where students are required to evaluate the quality of their research, argument, notes, and writing can be an obstacle. Thus, during the research writing process, it is important to help students develop internal language around the many steps they must follow, including the evaluation of sources.

Most students use the internet to research. The internet is notorious for its vast quantity and varied legitimacy of sources available, and navigating this expansive and diverse landscape requires significant metacognition. One popular acronym for thorough source evaluation is CRAAP

Currency: Students should consider when, where, and how the information was published. Encourage them to ask: What is the publication date? Was the source published recently enough to be valid for the topic? Has it been revised? If it is an electronic source, do the included links work? 

Relevance: Ask students to reflect on the intended audience of the source. Encourage them to consider: Does the information included answers the posed research questions? Is the information too elementary or too advanced for their needs? 

Authority: Students should assess who is responsible for publishing, writing, and sponsoring the source. They should consider: What are the author’s credentials? Do these credentials match the claims made? What is the domain: .com .edu .gov .org .net? Was the source located using a free database like Google? Or was it located using a proprietary database like EBSCO or GALE? 

Accuracy: Ask students to consider the accuracy of the information in the source. They should determine: are there spelling errors or grammatical errors? Can the information in the article be verified from another source?  

Purpose: Students should reflect on the purpose of the information in the source. They should consider: Is there any bias in the information? Is the purpose of the information intended to educate? Sell? Is the information impartial? Are there specific political, religious, ideological, or cultural influences? 

Creating a specific framework for students to evaluate the credibility of a source is an important aspect of teaching the research writing process and can help all students learn to discern the quality and the validity of the sources they locate. 


Rouse, A. G., & Sandoval, A. (2018). Writing Interventions for Students With Learning Disabilities: Characteristics of Recent Research. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 23(2), 1–17.

Evaluating information – applying the CRAAP test – CSU, Chico. (2010, September 17). Retrieved February 6, 2023, from

Explore a source evaluation rubric for middle and high school students


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