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How do I evaluate website credibility?


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How do I know if the website I found is reliable?

The Web contains a lot of information that is not verified or checked, so it is important to be very careful when choosing quality Web sources. Anyone can make a web site about any topic, regardless of how much they know or are qualified in that subject area.

When checking Web sources for research, keep in mind that you're looking for information that is

  • reliable
  • credible
  • well researched
  • truthful
  • authoritative

One way to filter out Web garbage is to use the CRAAP method. Use this tool to evaluate your Web sources, but keep in mind this is just a tool, and you can choose to use an iffy resource for a specific reason. Be prepared to explain that reason.

For example, if you are putting together a paper or a speech about how misinformation spreads online, you may choose to use a blog that spreads misinformation as an example of what you're talking about.

The section below will discuss the CRAAP method.


Using the CRAAP method

The CRAAP method is a tool that uses 5 standards to analyze research sources. These standards are:

Check the source's publication date, never the copyright date. Is the information sitll current? When was the last update? How relevant is currency to the field you're writing in?

If the source has no publication date, you cannot show currency. Discard the source.

Is your source relevant to your research? Does it answer your research question and does it fit the assignment parameters? Check terminology, reading level, style.

Check authors' credentials. Do they have expertise? Check their background and find information about them that will show you whether they know what they're talking about. You wouldn't let a plumber do your root canal, would you?

Is the source accurate? Verify facts and claims against authoritative, independent sources. For example, check a fact from Wikipedia against the Encyclopedia Britannica.

What is the source's purpose? Is it to educate, inform, entertain, promote, persuade? Is the source neutral (that is, it presents and analyzes more than one view), or is it biased? Keep in mind that authors can and do write about their point of view or opinions, and those may not not neutral.  When we talk about bias, we mean prejudice. For example, "All students are lazy" is a biased statement. "Sometimes, for many reasons, students may be lazy" is not a biased statement.

Website comparison activity

For each of the choices below, apply the CRAAP method to decide which is the more reliable site. Explain your choice.


CRAAP Method Handout | Website Cred Checklist

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