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Basic Information: Evaluating Resources

Overview of library information and services.

Website Directories

These are directories of sites that have been pre-evaluted for currency and accuracy.

Google Web Search

Wolfram|Alpha Search

Evaluation Criteria

Use the following criteria to determine if a resource is useful:

The CRAAP test is a way to evaluate a source based on the following criteria: Currency, Reliability, Authority and Purpose/Point of View.  Below are some questions to help you think about how to measure each of the criteria.  

  • Currency -
    • How recent is the information?
    • How recently has the website been updated?
    • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • Reliability -
    • What kind of information is included in the resource? 
    • Is content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is is balanced? 
    • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
  • Authority -
    • Who is the creator or author?
    • What are the credentials?
    • Who is the published or sponsor?
    • Are they reputable? 
    • What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?
    • Are there advertisements on the website? 
  • Accuracy -
    • From where is the information?
    • Is there evidence to support the information?
    • Are there obvious errors such as spelling, grammar, or punctuation?
    • Can the information be verified elsewhere?
    • Does the information read as unbiased?
  • Purpose/Point of View -
    • Is this fact or opinion?
    • Is it biased?
    • Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?

Evaluating Websites

There are many wonderful and reputable sources on the Internet but often it can be difficult to find them after weeding through all the sites that come up in a Google search.

Some criteria to look for include:

  • .com? .net? -- these are commercial sites
  • .org? -- this often indicates a non-profit
  • .gov? -- only government sites have this domain
  • .edu? -- only educational institutions have this domain

What type of domain does this page come from?

  • Is this someone's personal page?
  • What are the author or authors' credentials?

Who wrote the page?

  • Is the information current? When was the page last updated?
  • Are sources documented with footnotes, a list of references or links?
  • Do the links work? Do they link to relevant sites on the topic?
  • Do other reputable sites link to this page (search Google using the link operator: type link:http://www.website.com). You can also use http://www.backlinkwatch.com/.
  • Why was this page created? As a joke or satire? To misinform people? To sell a product? Or to provide useful and important information to a broad range or users?

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