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Evaluating Sources: Online Sources

Criteria for Evaluating Web Sites

All sources should be evaluated but you must be particularly careful when using websites for information. Anyone can publish something on the web so there is a wide range in the quality of information. Below are some of the things you need to look for or pay attention to when evaluating online sources.

Accuracy/Content/Reliability

  • Are facts given? Are they accurate? Can they be verified?
  • Are the facts documented? Is there a reference list or bibliography?
  • Is there objectivity, consistency and fairness throughout?
  • Is the information comprehensive?

Authority/Credibility

  • Who wrote the page? Is this person’s contact information available?
  • Are the author’s qualifications or credentials listed? Is this person qualified to write this document?
  • Who or what organization or institution is responsible for the site? Is there a sponsoring organization or association?

Currency/Timeliness

  • Is there a date on the page?
  • Do the links work?
  • Recent date ≠ current information
  • Some information ages quickly; in other cases older information is still valid

Relevance/Appropriateness

  • Is the information relevant and informative?
  • Is it detailed?
  • Free of grammatical and/or spelling errors?
  • Free of offensive and/or vulgar language?

Purpose/Intended Audience

  • What is the purpose of the site – education, advocacy, commerce, etc.?
  • Who is the target audience – professionals, consumers, both?
  • Is the language used appropriate for the target audience?

Bias

  • What are the goals and objectives of the site?
  • Is there a particular point of view being presented?
  • Is there advertising?
  • Is there a real or potential benefit to the author(s) in providing less than accurate information?
  • Is there an indication of potential conflict of interests?
  • Any evidence of favoritism or prejudice based on gender, age, ethnicity, race, ancestry, place of birth, culture of origin, creed, religious/spiritual beliefs/affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, physical, mental, emotional or learning disability?

 

Evaluating Online Sources Video

Watch the video below for more discussion on evaluating online sources.

Mnemonics for Evaluation Criteria

A mnemonic is a device for helping to remember something. These acronyms/initialisms can help you remember some of the common web evaluation criteria.

  • 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why
  • AABCC: Accuracy, Authority, Bias, Coverage, Currency
  • AARP: Authority, Accuracy, Research, Presentation
  • A CRAB: Authority, Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Bias
  • CABIN: Currency, Authority, Bias, Information (content), Navigation
  • CARP: Catch & Release or Keep & Eat ~ Currency, Authority, Relevance, Purpose
  • CRAAP: Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose
  • CRUD: Currency, Research Level, Utilitarian, Dialectically Sound
  • PAC: Purpose, Authorship, Content
  • RADCAB: Relevancy, Appropriateness, Detail, Currency, Authority, Bias
  • TRAP: Timeliness, Reliability, Authority, Purpose
  • 10 Cs: Content, Credibility, Critical Thinking, Copyright, Citations, Continuity, Censorship, Connectivity, Comparability, Context

Handout on Evaluating Internet Resources

A printable handout with criteria for evaluating Internet resources (this handout is also available in Library 101).

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