There are some general guidelines and suggestions on this page, but in general, ask questions about each source and seek to independently verify information. Do not rely on a website's url extension, or the "About Us" information provided. Do a search for the name of an organization on the Internet and/or in article databases if it is unfamiliar to you.
Critically evaluate sources to decide whether to use them for a research assignment! While you are deciding on a topic and narrowing its focus, you may collect resources that you don't use in the end.
Apply the CRAAP test below to evaluate potential sources. Some of these criteria apply only to web sites, but others can be applied to any resource. When evaluating websites, methods linked from Evaluating Internet Resources may provide additional guidance in determining the authority, scope, currency, accuracy and bias of a website.
Currency: The timeliness of the information.
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
Authority: The source of the information.
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
Print copies of this checklist may be made and distributed provided that 1) They are used for educational purposes only and 2) The content of the page is reproduced here almost in its entirety. For any other use or for permission to make electronic copies, please contact the authoring library. This CRAAP test has borrowed (for educational purposes only) from Meriam Library @ California State University, Chico.
You've all searched for web sites with search engines like Google before, but don't just take the first few results! Take the time to evaluate each site.
Some web sites are more authoritative than others, such as government sites (.gov). Others, such as those ending with .org, .com, or .net need to be used with care.
Limit Google results to specific domains such as government sites by adding site:.gov to a search.
There are also some ways of adding precision to a web search, e.g., put phrases in quotes (""). For more help with Google, see the Google Search Tips guide.
When you need to use popular and scholarly articles in your project, do you know how to tell which one is which? Identifying scholarly articles involves analysis of the article's content. The chart below is meant to help you in this process; any one criteria by itself may not indicate that an article is scholarly. For example, a 30 page photo spread about stars at the Academy Awards in People is probably not scholarly.
|Length||Longer articles, providing in-depth analysis of topics|
|Authorship||Author an expert or specialist in the field, name and credentials always provided|
|Language/Audience||Written in the language of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students)|
|Format/Structure||Articles usually more structured, and may (especially in social sciences and sciences) include these sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography|
|Special Features||Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs|
|Editors||Articles usually reviewed and critically evaluated by a board of experts in the field (refereed or peer-reviewed)|
|Credits||A bibliography (works cited) and/or footnotes are always provided to document research thoroughly|
Check out the Scholarly Journal v. Popular Magazine Articles guide for the full tips. Adapted from chart created by Celita DeArmond.
This Andersen Library video will describe different types of articles: magazines for a general audience, trade publications written by and for people in a line of work, and scholarly or academic journals containing research articles.
This Andersen Library video created by Amanda Howell. The video and a transcript are available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDPr4vztyLQ.
This video from North Carolina State University Libraries (http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/evaluating-sources/) was created by Anne Burke: Project Co-Lead, Script, Storyboards; Andreas Orphanides: Project Co-Lead, Script, Technical Infrastructure; Hyun-Duck Chung: Original Script and Concept; Daria Dorafshar: Graphics and Animation; Kyle Langdon: Narration; Kim Duckett: Team Lead. A transcript is available.
This video from North Carolina State University Libraries (http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/evaluating-sources/) was created by Anne Burke: Project Lead, Storyboards; Lisa Becksford: Script, Editing; Daria Dorafshar: Graphics and Animation; Andreas Orphanides: Editing, Audio Production, Technical Infrastructure; and Josephine McRobbie: Narration. A transcript is available.