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ENGL 118/2 (Allen): Evaluating Sources

Is this a good source to use? Apply the CRAAP Test:

  • How old is the source? Is there a published date on the website?
  • Is it important for your topic that your sources be current?
  • Are there newer developments not addressed in this source?
  • Does the source relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level?
  • Is it too basic?  Too advanced?
  • Who is the author? Do they make it clear? Do they try to hide it?
  • What are the author's credentials or occupation?
  • If no author is listed, where does the information come from?
  • Do you notice errors?
  • Are there typos or grammatical mistakes?
  • Does this source say things that aren't verified in other sources?
  • Is the purpose of the source to inform and make research available?
  • Is it to persuade you to support a certain cause or just entertain?
  • Who is the intended audience? The general public? Scholars? Students?


Is the content credible?

You've decided that the website itself is credible enough to use, but what about the content? Can you trust the information you read? Here are some tips:

Point of View or Bias
  • First, note the URL of the document. Using the technique of backspacing to the home page you previously learned, you have determined either the author or publisher of the information. Does this document reside on the web page of an organization that has a clear stake in the issue at hand?
    • If you are looking at a corporate web page, assume that the information on the corporation will present it in the most positive light.
    • If you are looking at products produced and sold by that corporation, remember: you are looking at an advertisement.
    • If you are reading about a political figure at the web page of another political party, you are reading the opposition.
  • Does this document reside on the web page of an organization that has a political or philosophical agenda?
    • If you are looking for scientific information on human genetics, would you trust a political organization to provide it?
    • Never assume that extremist points of view are always easy to detect. Some sites promoting these views may look educational.
Cross Check
  • When you read something on a website, see if you can find that information in other sources (another website, book, magazine, or journal). If you can verify the information you find is part of a larger consensus, you can trust that information
  • Does the website you found include a list of references? If so, that is a good indicator that the information is well researched. You can even use the references they cite to find more sources.

Evaluating Websites Video



Checklist to evaluate sources