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How to Research

Evaluate for Quality

Evaluate for Quality                 It is important to critically evaluate the information you find while researching for your assignments. This page includes resources to help you evaluate your sources, including:

CRAAP Test

What is the CRAAP Test?

Critically evaluate an information source to determine if it is reliable.  Use this checklist of criteria to ask questions that assist in this evaluation.

Currency
  • How old is the resource?
  • How current is the information?
  • When was the website last updated?
  • Does the importance of currency vary by topic?

Relevance

  • Does the information relate to your research topic?
  • Is the information intended for academic use?
Authority
  • Who is the author?
  • Are the author’s credentials provided? Are they reliable credentials?
  • Who is the publisher?
  • Is it a reputable or vanity press?
  • Is there a sponsoring body?
Accuracy
  • Are the facts accurate as demonstrated by references or a bibliography?
  • Is there proper spelling, grammar, and composition?
Purpose

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the coverage too basic or too advanced for your audience?
  • Can you detect any potential biases?

Access this Handout for more details:

Evaluating Resources

Evaluating Scholarly Journals

Not all scholarly journals are created equally. Use the following tabs to help determine if the sources you are researching are scholarly and/or authoritative.

Tool #1: Journal Evaluation Rubric
Extensive tool for evaluating scholarly journals. Click "Download" to access a PDF of the tool.

Screenshot of a journal evaluation tool

Evaluating Open Access Journals

Tool #2: Checklist for Evaluating Open Access Journals
Use the following points of evaluation to determine if you should use a specific open access journal for your research:

  • Who is the publisher?
  • How long has the journal been in publication?
  • Is the journal indexed?
  • What are the submission guidelines and acceptance standards?
  • What are the peer review guidelines?
  • Is the research published in the journal used by others?
  • What is the citation count on individual papers?
  • Who are the authors and what university or institution are they from?

Evaluating Web Resources

Tool #3: Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources

Author
  • Is the name of the author on the page?
  • Are the author's credentials listed?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the given topic? Why?
  • Is there contact information for the author on the page?
Purpose
  • Who is the intended audience?
    • Is the audience scholarly or experts within the field?
    • Is the audience the general public?
  • What do you think the purpose of the site or resource is?
    • Is the purpose to inform or teach?
    • Explain or enlighten?
    • Persuade?
    • Sell a product?
Objectivity
  • Is the information on the web resource fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Is the author's point of view objective and impartial?
  • Is the language the author has used free of emotion-rousing words and bias?
  • Does the author's affiliation with an institution or organization appear to bias the information?
Accuracy
  • Are sources clearly listed so that the information can be verified?
  • Can you verify any of the information in independent sources or from your own knowledge?
  • Has the information been reviewed or edited?
  • Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors?
Reliability & Credibility
  • Why should anyone believe information from this resource?
  • Does the information appear to be valid and well-researched, or is it unsupported by evidence?
  • Are quotes and other strong assertions backed by sources that you could check through other means?
  • Where is the document published? Check the URL domain.
Currency
  • Is there an indication of when the site was last updated?
  • If timeliness of the information is important, is it kept up-to-date?
  • Is there any information that is outdated?
Links
  • Are links current, or are there dead links on the web page?
  • What kinds of sources are linked?
  • Are links evaluated or annotated in any way?

Adapted from: Georgetown University Library and CCCOnline Library

Fact Checking Fake News

What is Fake News?

Fake news may be defined as "those news stories that are false: the story itself is fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes" (University of Michigan Library).

Fake news works to spread:

  • Misinformation: Information that is unintentionally false or misleading; or,
  • Disinformation: Information that is "deliberately deceptive, false or misleading" (Rubin, 2019), such as hoaxes or propaganda that are meant to influence an audience to a specific point of view or political agenda.

Fake news can be found anywhere - on social media, video streaming platforms, news websites, etc. 

 

How to Spot Fake News

How to Spot Fake News, as adapted from the IFLA How to Spot Fake News Infographic (see infographic below).

  • Consider the source. Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info.
  • Check the author. Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?
  • Check the date. Reposting old news stories doesn't mean they're relevant to current events.
  • Check your biases. Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgement.
  • Read beyond. Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What's the whole story?
  • Supporting sources. Click on those links. Determine if the info given actually supports the story.
  • Is it a joke? If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.
  • Ask the experts. Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site.

Infographic on How to Spot Fake News

Examples of Fake News

1) Is This The Man Behind the Global Coronavirus Pandemic? (ZeroHedge)

Screenshot of fake news website ZeroHedge

Why is it fake?

  • The author is Tyler Durden, one of the fictional main characters in Chuck Palahniuk's novel Fight Club.
  • ZeroHedge was recently permanently suspended from Twitter for spreading misinformation (source).
  • Further research into ZeroHedge has indicated that the news outlet is far-right leaning and is known for spreading conspiracy theories.
2)  Massive Depopulation Predicted - As the world grapples to contain the Covid-19 Pandemic, Alarming Data  Predicts the US will lose 227 Million population by year 2025 (Before It's News)

Screenshot of article from Before It's News

Why is it fake?

  • Spelling mistakes and inconsistencies in the title and first sentence (e.g., "Depopluation", "Alarmimg") are a clear indicator of a fake news source.
  • There is no author attributed to this article.
  • Looking at Before It's News' editorial guidelines, anyone can post content.

Fact-Checking Sites

Fact-checking is the act of verifying information before or after publication.

If you are unsure of the accuracy of an information source,  use the recommended links from this list to verify the content.

Learning Modules

Finding Real News

Teaching & Learning Commons subscribes to several databases that contain legitimate news sources.