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Evaluating Websites

Thank you!

Thank you to Jenny Fielding Northern Essex Community College for sharing this entire resource on Evaluating Websites!

Use the CRAP Test

With resources like Google at our fingertips, information isn't hard to find. What is challenging is determining whether that information is credible and can be trusted. Is it factual? Biased? Relevant to your topic?

A Google search is often our first stop to gain a basic understanding of the main ideas about a topic, but since anyone with access to a computer can publish anything online, it is crucial that you evaluate the information you find, especially when completing a research paper, or looking for important information (like health or financial information).

Web sources can be particularly hard to evaluate, so we've developed this handy acronym to help you determine if a source may be CRAP.

 

 

  • CURRENCY How recently was this information published/posted? Can you find a publication date?
  • RELIABILITYIs the information supported by evidence? Can it be confirmed by other sources?
  • AUTHORITYWho wrote the information - are they an expert or knowledgeable in their field? (i.e. For health information, did a doctor or nurse write it? For science information, did a scientist or researcher write it?)
  • PURPOSE / POINT OF VIEWWhy was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? Is it biased toward a particular point of view?

Watch for Red Flags!

Scan your online resources for easy-to-spot red flags.
These can help you determine whether a website is credible enough to use in a research paper.


  • Website does not look professionally designed
  • Lack of citations or links to verifiable information
  • No author/sponsoring organization is listed, either on the main page or in an 'About Us' section
  • The page's purpose is to sell something (almost all .com)
  • There is a lot of advertising on the page
  • The publisher is promoting a specific point of view