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Evaluating Quality Web Sources  

This guide should help students properly evaluate web pages and their validity for research projects.
Last Updated: Dec 15, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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The CRAAP Principles

Before you use a website as a resource, evaluate it with the five CRAAP Principles:

  • Currency: the timeliness of the information
  • Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs
  • Authority: The source of the information
  • Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content
  • Purpose: Why was this written and for whom?

Download the document below for specific evaluation criteria.


Why Should we Evaluate Websites?

Putting information on the Internet is fast, cheap, and can be done by anyone with an Internet connection.


If you are using a website as a source in your paper or project, you need to think critically about where that information is coming from.  You don't want to base your paper off a biased opinion or cite a website that's simply a mask for advertising. Instead, you want to find credible, up-to-date, relevant information that's written by an expert or an authority on the topic, whose claims are based in fact and supported by evidence.

To learn how to separate the good information from the not-so-good or downright bad information that you might come across online, start with the CRAAP Principles outlined on the left.  Download the linked document for specific criteria for each principle. You also have the option of using either of the following methods to evaluate sources:

1. Internal Evaluation- With this method, a person looks internally at the website to gage validity or legitimacy. Ex: Does the website have the author’s contact info? Is the publisher of the website a well-known and reliable organization? What evidence is there of quality control or can the information be checked by another source?  

2. External Evaluation- With this method, a person looks externally to double-check or confirm information within the website. Ex. Double-checking author or website credentials and citations against credible sources such library databases like Scout, Associations Unlimited or subject specific databases.

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