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College Readiness

Evaluating Websites

When you search for information, you're going to find lots of it . . . but is it good information? You will have to determine that for yourself, and the CRAAP Test can help. The CRAAP Test is 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.

Currency: 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?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: 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 at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or 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?

Authority: 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?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?  Examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: 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?

(California State University, Chico)

Who runs this thing?

The Internet provides a wide variety of data and information from around the world.  With so much information you have to develop skills in evaluating the websites to determine their worthiness.  Use the CRAAP test to determine if website has value.  It is also good to research the owner of the website to determine bias.

  • Wikipedia--Like other encyclopedias, Wikipedia is a reference source that contains general information.   This kind of information does not have the depth and completeness of coverage necessary to be cited in papers at the college and university level.  These sources are often best used to survey basic information at the start of the research process.  Additionally, open sources like Wikipedia are unable to provide verifyable information about the identity and credentials of the authors.  Except in rare cases, sources like Wikipedia should not be used in your papers.
  • Corporate and Organization Websites--Websites ending in .com or .org belong to businesses or interest communities.  They are created to influence the viewer, to sell products or ideas.   You should always be careful while evaluating the information on these sites.  Ask yourself: where can I verify this information? What important information may be absent from this site? How trustworthy is this source?
  • Educational Websites--Websites ending in .edu belong to schools and universities.  While these institutions are highly trusted, the quality of the websites with .edu endings can be very different.  For example, some schools provide access to students to create their own personal websites and do not monitor these pages for accuracy.  On the other hand, some facaulty may post previously published papers on their websites (an academic source), or papers that have not yet been peer-reviewed (a non-academic source).  Be sure to evaluate educational websites carefully to determine the quality of each source.
  • Government Websites--Websites ending in .gov belong to the U.S. government (Federal, State and Local).  Information found on these sites are generally considered reliable. 

Use these links to determine ownership:

Library Database or Internet?

Library Database Internet Website

Get their information from professional or

experts in the field. 

Can be written by anyone

regardless of expertise.

Contain published works where facts are

checked.

Content is not necessarily checked

by anyone, expert or not.

Easy to cite in a bibliography and may 

create the citation for you.

Don't provide the information necessary

to create a complete citation.

Helps you narrow down your topic or

suggest related subjects.

Aren't often organized to support

student research needs.

Updated frequently and include the date

of publication

May not contain current information or

indicate when a page is updated.

Available to anyone using a coomputer in a

library that subscribes to databases or any

library cardholder using a computer outside 

the library.

Available to anyone with an internet

connection inside or outside the 

library.

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