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English: Evaluate Websites

Your guide to research for English classes at Harper College.

Evaluate Websites

Students often ask, "How do I know it's a good source of information?"  Start by asking yourself,  "Who? What? Where? Why? and When?"  Who wrote it? is s/he credentialed and qualified to to write on the topic? What is the point of this article? To inform, persuade, sell, scare? etc. More ways to evaluating information are below.  

Evaluating Web Resources: The CRAP Test

Before using a website for a paper or project, you should evaluate it to make sure that it is appropriate for college level research. Consider the following criteria when you are evaluating a website:

  • C - Currency:  Does the website state the date of last update or copyright?  Was the website updated recently?  If links are included, are they working?
  • R - Reliability/Relevance:  Does the website include sources for all factual information?  Are these sources credible and current?  Is the information presented on the website consistent with the other sources you have found?  Does the website provide a way to contact the author or organization for additional information?
  • A - Authority:  Who authored this information?  Was it a single person or several people?  Was it a corporation or organization?  Are their credentials provided?  What is their reputation or expertise?
  • P - Purpose/Point of View: Does the website clearly state its mission or purpose?  Does the mission or purpose of this website present a potential bias?  Is the intended audience clear and is the content appropriate for the level of research you are performing?

Undestanding Domain Names (.com, .edu, .gov, etc.)

The domain of a website indicates the type of entity responsible for creating and maintaining the site. The domain can be found in the site's URL and is always preceded by a .  Below is a list of possible domain names.  Click the info button to find things to consider when evaluating these sites.

Evaluating Sources for Credibility