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**Research from Start to Finish**: Evaluating Websites

Easy to follow guide with steps on how to do research. Finding and researching a topic, using library materials, search strategies, evaluating information and more.

Finding Websites

owlIt is important to understand that the information found in databases such as Academic Search Complete (EBSCOhost) or JSTOR is NOT the same as the information found on the Web.

The information in databases is targeted and accurate, comes from authoritative sources and takes effort and time to compile. Because of this, the databases cost money, which the library pays to access the content—- content you cannot find on the Web. Because the Web is free and anyone can post information, there is little to no organization involved in Web information resources and most information is not evaluated for accuracy.

db vs google

Search engines are the most common way people search the Web. Search engines are indexed by computerized programs (called “spiders”) that crawl the Web searching for new Web pages. Most search engines contain millions of pages which are not organized into any discernible order. This often leads to the returning of numerous results which may have nothing to do with your original search. Therefore, search engines are best used for specific references, general facts and information, or information about specific people or organizations.

Examples of general search engines include:

If you have a specific subject or topic that you would like to research, it might be better to start by using a subject directory, which are organized by human beings (sometimes even librarians!) into subject-specific categories. Examples of subject directories include:

Evaluating Information


C.R.A.A.P. Test

The C.R.A.A.P test is a method for evaluating an information source based on the following criteria: currency, reliability, authority, accuracy, and purpose/point of view. It is especially important to carefully evaluate information found on the Web. As you review your information sources, consider these questions:

Currency -
How recent is the information?
How recently has the resource been updated?
Is it current enough for your topic?
Reliability -
What kind of information is included in the resource?
Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is is balanced?
Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
Authority -
Who is the creator or author?
What are the publisher's credentials?
Who is the publisher or sponsor?
Are they reputable?
What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?
Are there advertisements on the website?
Accuracy -
Where does the information come from?
Is the information supported by evidence?
Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
Can you verify the information in another source?
Purpose/Point of View -
Is this fact or opinion?
Is it biased?
What is the purpose of the information? Are they trying to entertain, inform, persuade, market a product, or teach?
Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?

The C.R.A.A.P. test was created by the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico.

Great job! You have some excellent sources but you have to give the authors credit if you use parts of their work in your own project. Let's learn how to correctly cite sources!


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C.R.A.A.P. Handout

Evaluating Websites [Video]

See also....

Criteria for evaluating Web pages by Cornell University Library

Evaluating Web pages: techniques to apply and questions to ask by UC Berkeley

Evaluating books by Colorado State University Library

Evaluating periodicals by Fordham University Libraries


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