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Research Process: Evaluate Sources

This guide focuses on the skills and resources needed to complete a research project.

Evaluate and Media Literacy Tutorial

Use the CRAP Test

It is challenging to determine whether information from the Web is credible and can be trusted. Is it factual? Biased? Relevant to your topic?

Here is a handy acronym to help you determine if a source may be CRAP.

 

 

  • CURRENCY How recently was this information published/posted? Can you find a publication date?
  • RELIABILITYIs the information supported by evidence? Can it be confirmed by other sources?
  • AUTHORITYWho wrote the information - are they an expert or knowledgeable in their field? (i.e. For health information, did a doctor or nurse write it?)
  • PURPOSE / POINT OF VIEWWhy was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? Is it biased toward a particular point of view?

Watch for Red Flags!

Scan your online resources for easy-to-spot red flags. Watch out for:

  • Fort with red flag pictureA specific point of view is pushed
  • Lots of advertising
  • Non-professional looking websites (poor design, misspellings)
  • Lack of citations or links to verifiable information
  • Merchandise or payment requests
  • No author/sponsoring organization is listed, either on the main page or in an 'About Us' section

Media Bias Chart

Media Bias Chart

What kind of website is it?

One way to to help you evaluate your website is to determine the type of website you have found. Look at the URL. What does it say?

.com = commercial site
.edu = educational site
.gov = U.S. government site
.org = non-profit organization site (usually, but not always)
.mil = U.S. military sites and agencies
.net = networks/Internet Service Providers

It's Ok to Google!

Google logo

There are lots of times that Google is really helpful for research. Here are a few.

  • For pre-reading before picking a topic.
  • To verify information that you've found on websites.
  • To verify credibility of an author or source.
  • To use credible sites for information (if your instructor allows website).
  • To access online scholarly articles through Google Scholar or available from publishers' websites (if your instructor allows).
  • To find bibliographies of websites like Wikipedia (sources in bibliographies can be credible even if the website isn't).
  • To find abstracts in indexes such as PubMed and then search for the article in the Library's databases.

Many times sources found in Google are just as credible as sources in the Library's databases. It's up to YOU to verify credibility when you Google. However, always follow your instructor's directions on the types of sources allowed for assignments.