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Evaluating Online Information

A guide to thinking critically about the information you find online.

Citing Online Sources

Always document your site with a URL address, organizational affiliation, the date you viewed it, and other identifying information. For more help with citing online sources and information, see our Citation Guide.

Evaluating Online Information

Introduction

The quality of information found online is extremely variable. Anyone can post data and information on the Internet and not all online sources are equally reliable, valuable, or accurate. It is important to carefully evaluate information found online before relying on it for your own research.

(Video by The Open University Library)


How To Use This Guide

Looking for general strategies for evaluating information? See below for an introduction to evaluating information effectively, and for some questions to keep in mind in any situation.

Looking for information on evaluating specific kinds of resources? The tabs in the sidebar menu link to pages with some red flags to look out for and questions to consider for different types of resources. Try reading through before starting your research, so you know what to look out for when you start. You can also refer to this guide when you've got a source you aren't so sure about - we'll walk through it together.

If this guide doesn't have quite what you need, just ask a librarian! Come see us at the Research Help Desk in the Goldfarb Library, send us an email, or contact us via chat.

 

Quick Guide

The most important thing is to know what questions to ask when reviewing a source. The more research you do, the more of a habit it becomes! Here's a handy mnemonic for remembering some of the most important questions to ask:

The CRAAP Test

C - Currency - Is the information in this source current, or has it become outdated?

R - Relevance - Is the information relevant to your research question or topic? And is this kind of source appropriate for your uses?

A - Authority - Who's the author and what are their qualifications? How do they know what they're telling you is accurate?

A - Accuracy - You might not know right away if the information is accurate - after all, that's why you're researching it - but there are some flags you can watch out for. Are the claims supported by evidence, and are sources cited? Are there editors or peer reviewers? Do any other sources support or verify the information?

P - Purpose - Why is this information out there? Does it appear impartial or biased? Are the authors or the publisher trying to present facts or to convince you of something? 

(The CRAAP test was originally created by the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico)

For a deeper dive into some good questions to ask - helpful to read through when beginning your research, so these considerations are fresh in your mind - check out the UC Berkeley Library's guide.