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How to Write a Research Paper: Evaluating Sources

Step by step description of how to write a research paper

C.R.A.A.P. Evaluation Tool

Ask yourself the following questions about each website you are considering: 

Currency

  • How recent is the information?
  • Can you locate a date when the page(s) were written/created/updated?
  • Does the website appear to update automatically (this could mean no one is actually looking at it)? 
  • Based on your topic, is it current enough?

Example website: GenoClinic

Reliability 

  • What kind of information is included in the website?
  • Based on your other research, is it accurate and complete?
  • Is the content primarily fact or opinion?
  • Is the information balanced or biased?
  • Does the author provide references for quotations and data?
  • If there are links, do they work?

Example website: OncoLink

Accuracy

  • Is the information in the resource reliable?
  • Are the author's claims supported by evidence?
  • Has the content been reviewed by other experts? Is it a peer-reviewed resource?
  • Are the language and tone biased?
  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors? 

Authority 

  • Can you determine who the author/creator is? 
  • Is there a way to contact them?
  • What are their credentials (education, affiliation, experience, etc)?
  • Is there evidence they are expects in the subject? 
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the site?
  • Is this publisher/sponsor reputable?

Example website: Quackwatch

Purpose/Point of View

  • What's the intent of the website (to persuade, to sell you something, etc.)?
  • What is the domain (.edu, org, .com, etc.)? How might that influence the purpose/point of view?
  • Are there ads on the website? How do they relate to the topic being covered?
  • Is the author presenting fact or opinion?
  • Who might benefit from a reader believing this website? 
  • Based on the writing style, who is the intended audience?

Example website: Presidential Elections

C.R.A.P. Test in Action: Articles

C.R.A.P. Test in Action: Websites