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FSL: Evaluating Resources

Resources for the Foundations of Scholarship and Learning (FSL) class

Library Resources

Other Tips for Evaluating Resources

  • Generally blogs or question answering websites (such as Yahoo Answers or are not considered reliable sources. There are exceptions to this, such as blogs that are published by experts in a particular field and have research that is backed up by citations.

  • Look for grammar and spelling errors, a jumble of broken links, or an excessive amount of pictures that are unrelated to the topic. 

  • When in doubt, ask your professor or a librarian!

Real or Hoax?

Is the tree octopus real or a hoax? Run the C.R.A.P. test on the tree octopus website and decide for yoruself!

Use the CRAP test to evaluate resources:

C- Currency:

  • How recent is the information? - Look for a copyright date on the website or the date that the article was published.

  • Is the information current enough for your topic? - The more recent the information is, the better it will be to use. Research can change, so using outdated sources may mean that your information is no longer valid

  • If the information is from a website, when was it last updated? - Information is constantly changing. If a website hasn't been updated in a few years, it is likely that the information is incorrect or outdated.

R- Reliability:

  • What kind of information is included in the resource? - Are there facts and data, or does it seem like a lot of opinion? If there are opinions, does the author have reliable data to support the opinion?

  • Is the content of the resource primarily made up of opinions? Is it balanced? - Does the website sound like an angry rant about something, or does it ramble on and on without providing references for the content? Does the information seem slanted towards a particular viewpoint?

  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations? - A legitimate researcher wants people to know that his or her information is reliable and that it builds upon other information, rather than just being made up or exaggerated. There may not be a formal "works cited page" but you should be able to clearly see what resources the author used to find his or her data. 

A- Authority:

  • Who are the authors or creators? - Does the website provide information about the author/creators, or is it vague about who the articles were written by? 

  • What are their credentials? - People who are experts in their field want others to know that they have the authority to write about the topic at hand. Are the author's credentials listed somewhere on the site? If not, search the author's name online and see if s/he has expertise in the field you're researching.

  • How do the authors or publishers make money? How does this influence what they write? - If the author is paid by a particular organization to only write good things about them, then the information may be skewed to reflect that opinion and not as accurate as it could be. 

  • Who is their publisher or sponsor? - The publisher or sponsor of the page may have created the page to make their viewpoints more widespead instead of offering an unbiased, research-based look at a particular topic. 

  • Are they reputable? - Is the page published by an organization that you've heard of? If not, look at the site's "About" section or do an Internet search for the publisher and find out more information about them. 

  • If it's from a website, does it have advertisements? - Does the page look professional, or does it look like a jumble of advertisements and potential spam links? Advertisements don't always mean that a site is bad or unreliable, but usually they indicate that the site is being sponsored and may have some biases. 

P- Purpose/Point of View:

  • Is this fact or opinion? - Research is fact based and avoids the author's personal opinions as much as possible. Facts can be checked and verified. 

  • Is it biased? - If an article about childhood obesity is being sponsored by the National Corn Farmers' Association, and the article says that high fructose corn syrup isn't that bad, then that information is likely biased and not as trustworthy as an independent study conducted by an unbiased organization. 

  • Is the creditor/author trying to sell you something? - Does a website with articles about illiteracy have a section for a set of "learn to read" DVDs? Credible research-based websites do not try to sell products to the readers.

Original Source for CRAP Test

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