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LiONiL: Library Instruction Online for Information Literacy

Module 4: Evaluating/Critical Thinking

Evaluating resources

Finding information on your topic is only part of the research process. You must also evaluate its credibility and suitability for your research needs. This is especially true if you use resources found on the Web through search engines such as Google or Yahoo. Internet search engines, unlike library databases, do not include subject headings, abstracts, and other evaluative information created by information professionals to make searching more accurate.

key informationAlways check for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose/bias (CRAAP) when evaluating information on a web site.

 
Currency

Is currency important for your topic? If so:

What is the date of publication?

Are the references listed in the work recent?

If statistics are quoted, are they current?

When was the site last updated?

Does the page provide a link to archived material?

Relevancy

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)?

How does the source compare to other sources you have found?

Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority

Who authored the document?

Are the author's credentials listed?

Is the author affiliated with a reputable institution?

If you are looking at a web site, what type of web site is it? You can usually tell by the suffix.

.edu = educational
.gov = government
.org = organization
.com = commercial

Accuracy

Are there references to source materials and can they be verified?

What is the article's relative value compared to the range of resources available?

Are there misspellings or grammatical errors in the document?

Does the document read coherently?
Purpose/Bias

Is the work intended for a particular audience?

Does the sponsor of the work or website have a bias?

Is the work intended to inform, persuade, or advertise?