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CMP-125 (Peters, Spring 2020)

Research writing

Evaluate and Critique Information

Evaluating information is a critical part of the research process and is a valuable skill that will help you in everyday use of information.

Developing this skill now will help you long after you have graduated.

Evaluating that information through questioning its authority, relevance, and timeliness

Authority

   Who is responsible for writing the material? What are their credentials?

Relevance

   How does this information relate to my topic? Will it help me to make a point?

Timeliness

   Was the information researched and written at a time apporpriate to your topic?

The CRAAP Test is a common checklist used to evaluate an information resource.

Currency: The timeliness of the web page.

  • If relevant, when was the information gathered?
  • When was it posted? 
  • When was it last revised? 
  • Are links functional and up-to-date? 
  • Is there evidence of newly added information or links?

Relevance: The uniqueness of the content and its importance for your needs.

  • What is the depth and breadth of the information presented? 
  • Is the information unique?
  • Is it available elsewhere, in print or electronic format? 
  • Could you find the same or better information in another source? 
  • Who is the intended audience? Is this easily determined? 
  • Does the site provide the information you need? 
  • Your overall assessment is important. Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: The source of the web page.

  • Who is the author/creator/sponsor? 
  • Are author's credentials listed? 
  • Is the author a teacher or student of the topic? 
  • Does the author have a reputation? 
  • Is there contact information, such as an e-mail address? 
  • Has the author published works in traditional formats? 
  • Is the author affiliated with an organization? 
  • Does this organization appear to support or sponsor the page? 
  • What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything? Example: .com .edu .gov .org 
  • .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.

  • Where does the information come from? 
  • Are the original sources of information listed? 
  • Can you verify any of the information in independent sources or from your own knowledge? 
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed? 
  • Does the language or tone seem biased? 
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typos?

Purpose: The presence of bias or prejudice/The reason the web site exists.

  • Are possible biases clearly stated? 
  • Is advertising content vs. informational content easily distinguishable? 
  • Are editorials clearly labeled? 
  • Is the purpose of the page stated? 
  • Is the purpose to: inform? teach? entertain? enlighten? sell? persuade? 
  • What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything? Example: .com .edu .gov .org.

The CRAAP Test was created by Meriam Library at California State University, Chico. 

After clicking "About" link from home page, the following information describes who is the author of this website:

Take a look at the address or URL.  Do you know what the domain names are for websites?  Here are the ones you will see most often.

 .com = commercial

   .org = organization

.net = network

  • Internet service provider
  • Originally for network providers but could be commercial or individual sites now
  • http://www.sonc.net/

 .gov = government

.edu = education

From: http://wssu.libguides.com/content.php?pid=16220

If the articles you find do not cite sources or if you want to verify information, try some of these fact checking websites:

  • Emergent   "Emergent is a real-time rumor tracker. It's part of a research project with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University that focuses on how unverified information and rumor are reported in the media."
  • FactCheck.org  "Find non-partisan analysis of current public policy issues. This non-profit political fact-check website is operated and maintained by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania."
  • Poynter Online  "Extensive list of websites for journalists to discover facts about political candidates and a diverse array of respectable government and political websites".

  • SourceWatch "The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) publishes SourceWatch, this collaborative, specialized encyclopedia of the people, organizations, and issues shaping the public agenda".
  • Snopes.com  "Check the veracity of some oft-quoted bits of information. Are they true or merely urban legends?"
  • Whois  "Lookup and search domain names, registration information to determine who is responsible for the website".