In this unit, you will learn how to evaluate the sources you find on the web. Read the material and watch the videos - and don't forget to take notes for the quiz.
Evaluating the information we find on the Web can be a very difficult process. There are so many elements of the information that need to be considered to determine if it is credible. However, librarians have identified four specific elements that together can help you evaluate the information.
These elements are Currency, Reliability, Authority and Purpose, and librarians have developed a useful tool called the C. R. A. P. Test.
Watch this video on how to use the C. R. A. P. Test.
Colorado Community Colleges Online, Source: YouTube
While Wikipedia has a lot of information that many find useful, we know anyone can edit Wikipedia articles. The library has several other valuable resources such as ebooks, encyclopedias and articles from newspapers, magazines, and journals. Many instructors will not allow Wikipedia to be used in academic research and Wikipedia has its own cautions about using its information for research.
Wikipedia’s own statement states that:
If you must use Wikipedia to find the information you are seeking, use it only for background, overview information and evaluate the information by doing the following:
False news (aka "Fake News") refers to misinformation that is intentionally passed off as credible news. This may include factual errors, misrepresentations of facts, omissions, and biases, along with a lack of verifiable evidence and facts to support the claims.
The purpose of this news information is often to persuade you toward a particular viewpoint, but it may also be to persuade you to keep clicking to generate ads, or even to entertain you, or scam you into giving out your personal information.
Watch the video below to learn how to spot this type of news.
FactCheck.org, Source: YouTube
While there has been a tremendous rise in false news information, there has also been a rise in the number of organizations and businesses dedicated to fact-checking it.
Below are two examples of non-profit resources you can use to check the facts presented in the news information you receive (and yes, you can also evaluate these resources using the C. R. A. P. Test).
"Nonpartisan, nonprofit 'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
Verify Webpage History:
Non-profit "digital library of Internet sites" that saves websites and can be used to find history and old content of websites.
Evaluating websites can be a difficult process, even with the tools and skills you have learned in this lesson. If you are still not sure whether your source is credible, be sure to ask a librarian.
Next, go to Unit 9 to learn how to ethically use the sources you want to use in your research and Avoid Plagiarism.