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Online Learning Guide: Evaluating Your Resources

Description

It is important to verify all resources. When using the library database, you can specifically filter by scholarly & peer-reviewed journals. These have been evaluated for you. When using other resources (especially those found on the Web, you should do some type of evaluation. Anyone can publish anything on the web! We recommend using the C.R.A.A.P.  (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose/Point of View) test for evaluating resources.

Limitations With Google Search (And Other Search Engines)

1. Cannot filter for scholarly resources.

2. Selections generally start with paid ads.

3. Uses algorithm that includes key words, frequency of key words, past search history, etc. Therefore the first listed are the most popular and not necessarily the best resources.

C.R.A.A.P. Test

1. Why evaluate resources? Watch this video from Western University:

2. Use the C.R.A.A.P. (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose/Point of View) Test chart to evaluate your resources.

Example of credible website using the EasyBib Website Evaluation Guide

Appropriate Uses for Wikipedia

Main site: Wikipedia

How it should be used:

  • Gather background information
  • Generate search terms (key words or synonyms)
  • Find other resources in bibliography/reference section

Cannot be sited because:

  • Currency (No guarantee when specific information has been updated)
  • Authority (Authors cannot be identified; not necessarily experts)
  • Point of View (Do not know if author has bias)

More Advice for Evaluating Online Resources

Look at the URL or Web address. Does it sound professional? Does it have a catchy or humorous title? Be careful of sites whose URL sounds too unprofessional.  Look at these elements to evaluate web sources.

Domain:  Who or what is sponsoring the Web site?  Take a look at the table below to explore the differences in web domains.

.com – a commercial site. Be sure to examine closely, its goal is to sell you something.

.gov – United States Government sponsored web site. The information may not always be objective, but all government documents and publications are freely available online.

Examples:  www.supremecourtus.gov or www.census.gov

.edu – sponsored by a college or university, these can be especially helpful. However, you should be cautious of personal sites of students or faculty, usually containing a ~ or % in the URL, these sites may simply reflect the opinion of the individual.

University sponsored site: www.roosevelt.edu/library
Personal site: www.biol.sc.edu/~helmuth/

.org – sponsored by a non-profit organization. These can provide a wealth of information about an organization as well as some hot topic issues. Be wary of any kind of bias the organization may have. Check the mission statement or the “About us” link from the web site for more information.

Good Example: www.thekingcenter.org
Bad Example: www.martinlutherking.org

 

If you want to read more, visit these sites that ask in depth questions about accuracy and evaluation when conducting research online.