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COM-531 Legal and Ethical Issues for Professional Communicators (Ebo, Spring 2016)

Evaluate

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.

Many criteria can be used to evaluate information, and we will focus on three:

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 informaiton 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. 

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

  • College or university site
  • Could be serious research or a student site
  • Mainly reliable/factual
  • http://rider.edu/

 

If the articles you find do not cite sources or if you want to verify information, try some of these fact checking websites:

 
  • Whois - A tool to check if a domain name is in use or available for sale, registrant of a site and some background information of the domain.
  • 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.
  • Snopes.com  Check the veracity of some oft-quoted bits of information. Are they true or merely urban legends?
  • Alexa.com  A website tracker that tracks a site's registration, owner and traffic statistics. 
  • West Hempstead Public Library Fact checking of political information.