Evaluating Webpages: How You Can Find Treasures Among the Junk

Why should I take the time to evaluate information I find on the Web?

Because you can’t be sure anyone else is doing it for you! The Web is great because so many different people can contribute information. Some of the information that is found is very useful for your research papers because it is accurate, current, objective. Other information that can be found on the web is based on the person who is maintaining the webpages opinion. You must be able to recognize the difference and sift out the useful material in order to have a more accurate research paper.


How can I do that?

You need to remember these criteria Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose (CRAAP Test):

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as an e-mail address?

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

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform? Teach? Sell? Entertain? Persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? Opinion? Propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Check the URL:

.gov is for a government agency. These sites have quality control.

.edu is for an educational institution These sites are usually reliable, although educational sites may include personal pages of varying quality.

.org is for non-profit organizations as well as commercial sites. With these sites, consider purpose.

.net is for networks. These sites can be about anything. Look to other information to help you evaluate them.

.com means a commercial site. Consider the purpose of the site.

~ means a personal page. The person could be an expert but maybe not. Try to get more information about the creator of the page.

From OWLS, The Library, Humboldt State University & Meriam Library, CSU, Chico