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MGT 490

How Do You Know?

Information is everywhere we are and coming in faster than ever before. Peer-reviewed scholarly articles and .edu or .gov websites are go-to sources of credible information, but sometimes they are not the only useful sources for research. It often makes sense to use other types of information in your work - but how do you know that it is reliable?

Evaluating the sources you use for your assignments is important. Better sources = better research, and evaluating sources is a critical part of the research process. This page provides a list of tools to use for evaluating information you find on the internet, and can be used in your coursework and in your life outside of school. 

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources in Business Research

Primary Sources

Primary sources are original works that provide direct information about something. In business, primary sources are those that provide information about what a company or industry says about itself: sources like annual reports, SEC and financial statements, press releases, interviews and speeches, blog posts, and even tweets or social media posts. 

Primary information does not guarantee accuracy, relevance, or credibility - you should always consider where the information came from and why it was created.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources synthesize and interpret primary source information. In business, secondary sources provide information about what others think about a company or industry. Secondary sources include pre-packaged reports like those in IBISWorld, Mintel, and Statista, as well as newspaper articles, trade publications, magazine articles, books, journal articles, and web publications. 

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources are summaries of information from primary and secondary source. These are overviews, and are the kinds of information you find in encyclopedias, on Wikipedia, and in bibliographies. Tertiary sources can help you locate secondary sources, in some cases.

SIFT (The Four Moves)

SIFT, also known as “The Four Moves”, is a 4-step task list for evaluating information on the internet. It is a quick tool for evaluating news and information you find on the open web. The ‘four moves’ of SIFT are: 

  • Stop: Don't cite or share information until you know what it is. Period.
  • Investigate: This is the 30 second gut check. Before you even click on something, hover over it to see if it's what you think it is.
  • Find : Cross-check the information by seeking additional sources about it.
  • Trace: Check the date, check the source - what is the original context of a quote, a video, or a photo?

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Evaluate Your Sources with SIFT

Try out one of these guides to use SIFT on your own:


The CRAAP test is a technique for evaluating sources based on your situation and information needs. CRAAP is a framework for assessing:

  • Currency: How timely is the information? Is it up to date? 

  • Relevance: Is the information relevant to your topic or question? Is it contextually appropriate? Who is the intended audience?

  • Authority: What is the source of the information? Is the author qualified to write on the topic?

  • Accuracy: How reliable, truthful, and correct is the information? 

  • Purpose: Why does the information exist? What is its intent?

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Evaluate Your Sources with CRAAP

Ready to use CRAAP on your own? Here are three simple guides to make it quick:

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