Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

MCM 100 Mass Communications

Research & Writing Skills

Information Literacy Banner

Find and Cite Sources

One of the most time-consuming tasks when writing a paper or other assignment is digging through the vast number of sources to find what you need. Don’t get overwhelmed with all the information out there—use strategies to stay on top of it all. In this tutorial, learn how to find and evaluate different sources, and properly format your citations.

Introduction to Research Skills: Information Literacy

When you’re bombarded with information, how do you cut through it all and pick out the most important information? The key is information literacy: knowing how to effectively find, evaluate, integrate, and cite sources. When you think about all of the research you’ll do in school, it’s clear that information literacy is a skill you’ll use again and again. In this tutorial, you’ll learn the basics of information literacy as well as how to apply these skills toward your assignments.

Making Sense of Today’s Media

Understanding media means understanding what is happening around you—being a more conscious member of society and a more informed human being. This tutorial is designed to help you understand how media works and how the media (and especially news) landscape has changed with the movement of information onto the Internet.

Mastering Social Media

This tutorial will familiarize you with the most popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and more! You’ll learn to get the most out of your usage while keeping away from the very real online pitfalls. Educate yourself about what each platform is for and how best to use it, whether for personal life, your hobbies, networking, or career development.

Understand and Avoid Plagiarism

Whether you intentionally turn in an essay that you didn’t write yourself or simply forget to add the proper citation, it’s considered plagiarism. If you don’t give credit where it’s due, there can be significant and long-term consequences. In this tutorial, learn how—with planning and good study habits—you can avoid plagiarism. That’s all it takes!

Write Like a Scholar

Get the skills you need to write like a scholar! While you may have done a lot of writing in high school, you’ll need to go beyond just noting observations. In college, you’ll read and interpret various works and use them to support your own assignments. In this tutorial, you’ll learn about the main parts of scholarly writing, sources and citations, and where to turn to for help if you need it.

The CRAAP Method

Are your sources credible and useful, or are they a bunch of . . .?! 

The CRAAP Test is a list of questions that help you determine if the sources you found are accurate and reliable.  Keep in mind that the following list is not static or complete. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

Key: * indicates criteria is for Web sources only

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • 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: The importance of the information for your needs.
  • 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: The source of the information.
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • 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? examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net *
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.
  • 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?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
  • 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?

Courtesy of Meriam Library, California State University, Chico