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Hamersly Library

BI 441/541 Human Heredity: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Internet Sources -- thumb

What's in a domain?

Conecting the "dots" can tell you a lot about a site.

When determining the domain, think of this as "decoding" the URL, or Internet address. This can provide indications of the site's mission or purpose. The most common domains are:

  • org :An advocacy web site, such as a not-for-profit organization.
  • .com : A business or commercial site.
  • .net:A site from a network organization or an Internet service provider.;
  • .edu :A site affiliated with a higher education institution.
  • .gov: A federal government site.
  • .or.us :A state government site, this may also include public schools and community colleges.
  • .uk (United Kingdom) : A site originating in another country (as indicated by the 2 letter code).
  • ~:The tilde usually indicates a personal page.

CRAPP Test

Does it pass the CRAPP test?

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Is the author's name visible? Does the author have an affiliation with an organization or institution?
  • Does the author list his or her credentials? Are they relevant to the information presented? 
  • Is there a publisher, mailing address or telephone number included, as well as an e-mail address? 
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?

Path: how you got there

  • Was it found via a search conducted through a search engine? Unlike library databases, the accuracy and/or quality of information located via a search engine will vary greatly. Look carefully!
  • Was it recommended by a faculty member or another reliable source? Generally, an indicator of reliability.
  • Was it cited in a scholarly or credible source? Generally, an indicator of reliability.
  • Was it a link from a reputable site? Generally, an indicator of reliability.

Perspective: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade? Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Are sources of factual information or statistics cited? Is there a bibliography included?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • Compare the page to related sources, electronic or print, for assistance in determining accuracy.
  • Are there ads? Is there a relationship between the ads and the content or are they simply providing financial support for the page?

Another test:

Where did you come from?

How you located the site can give you a start on your evaluation of the site's validity as an academic resource.

  • Was it found via a search conducted through a search engine? Unlike library databases, the accuracy and/or quality of information located via a search engine will vary greatly. Look carefully!
  • Was it recommended by a faculty member or another reliable source? Generally, an indicator of reliability.
  • Was it cited in a scholarly or credible source? Generally, an indicator of reliability.
  • Was it a link from a reputable site? Generally, an indicator of reliability.