Exploring Authority in Linguistics Research: Who to Trust When Everyone’s a Language Expert

Catherine Baird, Montclair State University
Jonathan Howell, Montclair State University


Many instruction librarians use the CRAAP test or a similar pneumonic tool as a regular activity in information literacy instruction classes. This involves having the students in the class select one or more sources and instructing them to answer a series of questions about these sources, as prompted by a simple checklist. Is the selected source Current, Relevant, Authoritative, Accurate and What is its Purpose? The goal is to help the students ascertain whether or not they should select this source and use it for an assignment. On occasion, a student will raise a hand and ask a simple question: “What do you mean by authoritative?” This is is the central question we will deal with in this chapter.