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Criteria to use when evaluating websites
How to evaluate your sources
How can you tell if the information you find is good information? Use the CRAAP test. It's a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.
The timeliness of the information.
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
- If your source is a website, do all the links work? If not, the page may be out-of-date.
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 too basic, or too advanced for your needs?
- Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
- Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?
The source of the information.
- Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
- What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
- Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
- Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
- If your source is a website, does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
(examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)
The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
- Where does the information come from? Does the author cite their sources?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source (not from a similar website, as some information is duplicated over and over on the web) or from personal knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
The reason the information exists.
- What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
- Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
CRAAP test adapted from California State University, Chico.
Some Tips on searching the internet
Limit your sites to either Educational or Government websites
by typing site:gov (for government websites) or site:edu (for educational websites)
You can also search .orgs but they are not as reliable as .edu or .gov
One reliable .org is the Pew Research Center
Google also has an advanced search. You can access it by go to the following url: https://www.google.ca/advanced_search
Google News is portal that allows you to search for information from only news organizations. Be warned that each organization has difference guidelines on accessing the fulltext or video of their reports.
Using Google Scholar
Google Scholar, http://scholar.google.com/, is a way to search the internet for scholarly information on a given topic. Unlike a normal Google search, Google Scholar searches for scholarly information provided by academic publishers, professional societies, universities, repositories and scholarly organizations. The types of information Google Scholar provides include:
- Peer-reviewed journal articles
- Unpublished scholarly articles
- Masters theses and other degree based work
- Citations for books that may provide limited access to the text of the book.
- Technical reports
For the most part, Google Scholar provides a citation to articles without full-text access. If you use Google Scholar on campus you can see links to full text articles via library databases.
If you are using Google Scholar off campus, you will need to link Google Scholar to the full-text resources of Westchester Community College. You can consult our online guide on how to link WCC resources.