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Evaluating Online Sources

Evaluating Sources

Applying a set of standards to information sources will help you judge their credibility and relevancy.

Evaluate information...

  • To find the most relevant information for your topic and assignment
  • To ensure the quality and reliability of your research
  • To find expert views, opinions, and research on your topic
  • To weed out unreliable, biased, outdated, and/or incorrect information
  • To make sure you get the information your professor is seeking

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

The CRAAP Test is a valuable tool for evaluating your sources.

If you're looking for information in an online search engine like Google or Yahoo, you often find too much information and not all of it is useful (and some of it is just bad). The CRAAP Test involves a series of questions designed to help students evaluate online information to determine if they should use the information for class projects, papers, or presentations.

 

From: https://ucsd.libguides.com/preuss/webeval

Other Tips & Tricks

What to Look for:

  • Websites that end in
    • .edu (educational institutions)
    • .gov (government agencies)
    • .org (registered organizations - usually a non-profit)
    • Websites with .com or .net are not always unreliable but they should be used with caution
  • Information from sites with many broken links might not be a reliable resource because it indicates that the site isn't maintained on a regular basis
  • Always compare information that you find on a website with other information sources.
  • Consider the bias of the author or sponsoring institution - even large, famous organizations have biases
  • Use non-scholarly sources and methods in an acceptable way
    • For example: although you should never cite Wikipedia, these articles often cite more reputable sources in their footnotes - this can be a useful starting point
    • Make sure that any non-scholarly information can also be found in the scholarly literature
  • Be aware of how Google displays search results. The first results are not necessarily to most reliable, popular, or relevant. There are many factors that go into how Google displays search results - each site should be critically evaluated

 

Fake News

Fake news has been a theme in headlines for a long time. In essence, fake news are news stories that are false - they are fabricated with no verifiable facts, sources, or quotes.

They are created for many different purposes:

  • Clickbait: more clicks means more money, regardless of the content
  • Partisan actors want to influence voters and policy makers for political gain or to influence public discourse
  • Political regimes want to advance their own propaganda
  • Satirists want to make a point or entertain
  • The blurred lines between news and entertainment as well as the pressure of the 24 hour news cycle may contribute to shoddy writing the doesn't follow professional journalistic standards

 

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