Skip to main content

Communication Sciences and Disorders

A useful guide for when you have to do research in the field of speech language pathology

Source Evaluation

If you're going to use websites as sources in research, make sure that the information presented is reliable. To do this, you need to evaluate the source. Here are some things to consider when evaluating a source:

  • Who wrote this? - Is it a professor? An expert in the field? Some conspiracy nut in a trailer in the Midwest? A 30-something person in their mother's basement?
  • Why was this written? - Is it reporting the results of some sort of study or research? Is it pushing an agenda? Is it one of those sites that churns out articles and pays authors by the word/page? 
  • When was this written? - This one can be a little tougher to pin down unless it's a news website. 
  • Where did the information come from? - Did they cite their sources? If they did, make sure their sources don't stink. If they didn't cite, then there's a decent chance you shouldn't be using this (not as important if you're using it as a primary source in some cases)
  • What audience is this intended for? - Anyone? Someone with a specific subject background?

Blogs are generally unacceptable sources for academic level research, but it does depend on your topic and assignment. Make sure to evaluate what you're looking at, and know what it's flaws are (if any) before you use it as a source.

The main point is to be critical and really think about where this information is coming from.

Wikipedia has created a guide on how to evaluate their articles - these same skills apply!  You can use their guide as a more in-depth practice "quiz".
EasyBib has a great walk through of credible to less credible websites with a chart at the end. 
John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, also discusses lateral reading (around 4:30 is when he starts with lateral reading). There is also background information about website and ad design, authorship, and more that may seem obvious to you that is helpful in understanding the context of lateral reading and critical thinking when reading/watching something new, no matter the source, in the video below. 

 

The CRAAP test is widely used to help individuals remember the criteria to check when evaluating websites. You'll notice the questions asked under the pneumonic are similar or the same as under Source Evaluation - this is just a different way to remember them. 

CRAAP stands for:

  • Currency:
    • How recent is the information?
    • When was this page last updated?
    • Is the information out of date?
  • Relevance
    • Does the information relate to your topic/answer your questions?
    • Who is the intended audience?
    • Is it presented at the appropriate audience level?
  • Authority:
    • Who is the author/sponsor/publisher?
    • What are their credentials to write on this topic?
    • Is their contact information?
  • Accuracy:
    • Is it fact or option based?
    • Are their cited sources? What are they?
    • Can you verify any of the information in other sources?
    • What’s the bias? How can you tell? (Everything has bias)
  • Purpose:
    • What is the website’s purpose for existing? Is it to inform, teach, entertain, persuade?
    • Is there advertising?
    • What is the site trying to sell you?
    • Is the information fact? Opinion? Propaganda? 
    • What can the domain name and the URL tell you?

If all you want to do is some fact checking, you can check out the below websites to help sort real and fake news and facts.

You can also check out EasyBib.com's article on spotting fake newsWant to test yourself? Try this activity.

The below infographic is also from EasyBib.com. You can also use the ferret infographic from EBSCOhost in the below panel for similar fact or fiction tips.

These videos might help better explain various facets of digital literacy and fact checking.

There are ten videos in total in this series, all of which have valuable information. If you're interested check them out too! 

Slides

What's in a URL?

CRAAP Test Flowchart

CRAAP Test Explained

Evaluating News

Ferret Out Fake News (EBSCO)

Ferret Out Fake News with Freddie (EbscoHost)