The Five Ws

The Five Ws

The "Five Ws" is a simple, easy-to-remember device to help you evaluate research sources. For any source you choose--including websites, news publications, books, magazines, journals, or other types of content--you can ask yourself: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

The Five Ws

     Questions to Consider ...

Who?

  • Who is the author?
  • Does their education or experience qualify them as an authority on your topic?
  • If the author is an institution or organization, what is its stated mission?

What?

  • What information is provided by this source?
  • Is it relevant and appropriate for your research need?
  • How will you use the information for your assignment?

Where?

  • Where does the information appear?
  • Is it from a book, a journal, the news media, or some other type of source? 
  • Does the scope, depth, and timeliness of the source suit your need?
  • Does the source offer news and opinion, or research and scholarship?

When?

  • When was the source published or updated?
  • Is the information provided the most current available?
  • If the source is not recent, does it still provide historical context?

Why?

  • Why has the source been produced?
  • Is the purpose to sell, persuade, entertain, or inform?
  • Is it written for professionals or the general public?
  • Does it show any bias or omissions?

Students may also use the CRAAP Test as a device to evaluate information for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.