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English 102 Composition II / Research: Website Evaluation

This Research Guide will assist students needing to explore topics before writing a research paper.

CRAP TEST for Evaluating Sources

  • You can use this list as a guide for evaluating your sources, whether they are websites or from SVC resources.
  • You don't need to be able to answer all the questions but use the list as a general evaluating tool.
CURRENCY
  • How recent is the information, does it matter to your topic?
  • Has the resource been consistently updated/revised?
  • Are links current and working?
RELEVANCE
  • Is the information really relevant to your topic?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or ideas?
  • Are there errors?
AUTHORITY
  • Who is the creator, author or sponsor?
  • What credentials does the author or organization have?
  • Does their experience or education indicate that they could be considered "experts"?
  • Is information about the creator easily found?
  • Is information provided about funding sources or data gathering for the work?
PURPOSE / POINT OF VIEW
  • What is the the purpose of the site? Is it obvious what it's for?
  • Are they trying to sell you something or promote an idea?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is there a strong bias, an aggressive use of language, or a balanced tone?
  • Are there lots of pop-ups and irrelevant ads?

 

Awesome Websites

Sometimes websites can provide excellent resources to support your ideas. Make sure you are checking the credibility of the internet source by checking with your instructor, a librarian, or by using tools for evaluating sources.

The following are a few reliable internet sources to try:

  • Allsides - Balanced news/ media bias 
  • Brookings Institution - Non-profit Public Policy. Researches societal issues.
  • Data.gov - Open data from the U.S. Government
  • Futurity - Research news from top universities
  • OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) - Provides evidence-based international data on a range of global issues 
  • Pew Research - Nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.
  • Snopes.com - Fact checking site
  • World Factbook from the CIA - Provides information on the history, people and society, government, economy, energy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

Evaluating Internet Sources

More criteria for evaluating web sites

This list is a guide for evaluating information found on the Internet.   It can also be applied to print sources and media. 

 ACCURACY -- How reliable is the information?  Remember, almost anyone can publish on the web.  As opposed to scholarly print media, many web sites are not verified.  There are no web standards to ensure accuracy.

 AUTHORITY -- What are the author’s qualifications for writing on this subject?  How reputable is the publisher?  It is often difficult to determine the authorship and qualifications.  The publisher information is often absent.

 OBJECTIVITY -- Is there bias?  Are the goals or aims of the individual or group clearly stated?  Remember that many people consider the web as a place to state their opinions.

 CURRENCY -- Is the content up-to-date?  Often dates are omitted or may mean the date that the information was originally written, the date it was placed on the web, or the date it was last revised.

 COVERAGE -- What topics are covered and to what depth?  Coverage may differ from print resources.

 AFFILIATION -- Is there a corporate entity (i.e. company, government, organization, university) that supports this site?  Is there a link to the homepage of the organization?  Is there contact information such as an email link and a snail mail address?  How might this affiliation affect objectivity?

 AUDIENCE -- For what audience is the material intended?  Is it for students in elementary school?  Middle school?  High school?  Is it for adults?  How difficult is the material?

 STABILITY OF INFORMATION -- It’s here today but will it be here tomorrow?  Can you cite it with some assurance that it will be found again?

 

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