You can't believe everything you read, see, or hear! Use the CRAAP test to evaluate the material you find online for your research so you avoid getting any unfit resources and all the "CRAAP" that is out there.
Currency refers to the timeliness of the information. A lot of information found on the web can be outdated, websites may no longer be maintained or updated. Ask the following questions when looking at a website to know if its CURRENCY is appropriate for you:
- Is the publication date noted?
- Is the information/publication date current for your topic?
- Has the website been recently updated?
- Are the links still active and useful?
- How old is the information being given? Is the information outdated?
- How old is the information being cited/referenced in the resource compared to the publication date of the source?
Relevancy refers to how the information relates to your topic and whether it is an appropriate academic source. Ask the following questions to find out the RELEVANCY of your resources:
- Does the information relate to your research topic. Does it answer the questions you are asking?
- Who is the intended audience? Is it meant for the general public? Children? Academics?
- Is the level of information appropriate for you?
- Is this the best resource out there? Have you looked for other sources?
Authority refers to who the author(s) is for your resource. If no author is present, you need to ask who is taking responsibility for this information? Is it an organization, a company, a person, no one? Questions to ask yourself when looking at the AUTHORITY of a website:
- Who is the author and what are their credentials? (Credentials = Are they an expert who works within the field OR an individual with a PhD or higher education on the subject OR are they an academic with affiliations to reputable institutions?)
- Are there any organizational affiliations that may create bias?
- Look at the domain name what does it tell you?
.ca - Canadian based website
.gc.ca OR canada.ca – Canadian federal government site
.bc.ca – British Columbia provincial government site
.gov – U.S. government site
.edu – U.S. educational institution
.com/.net/.org – no longer serve any distinction, anyone can get any of them for a fee.
Accuracy is whether or not you can ensure that the information presented is accurate and neutral. Questions to ask yourself when looking at ACCURACY:
- Can you tell where the information comes from? Are resources cited? What type of resources are cited?
- Is the information factual and can it be verified?
- Are there grammatical errors or typos?
- Has the source been reviewed by experts in the field?
- Is it biased? Does the writer have a calm tone?
- Does other material that you have found for your research support their claims?
Purpose is why the website has been created, why are they providing this information freely online. Questions to ask yourself when looking for the PURPOSE are:
- Who is the intended audience? General public, children, academics etc.
- Why was the site created? For education, informational, to persuade or sell something?
- Is it fact, opinion, or propaganda?
- Is the purpose/mission/goals clearly stated on the site?
- Are there advertisements? If so why are they there and what are they selling?
- Is the information presented impartial and objective?