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Criteria for Evaluating Websites
There are many different ways to approach evaluating websites. Below is a sample of different criteria, all with different names.
Of the evaluation criteria with cute names, the CRAAP test is probably the most famous.
- Currency: Is the information up-to-date enough?
- Relevance: Is the information related to your topic / question?
- Authority: Is the author / publisher an expert on this topic?
- Accuracy: Is the information truthful & correct?
- Purpose: Why does this information exist? Is there bias?
The Five Ws
You are probably familiar with the method of asking who, what, when, where, and why when writing a news story. This method applies those five Ws to website evaluation.
- Who is the author?
- What kind of site is it? (.com? .edu?)
- When was the site published?
- Where is the information from, i.e., who is the publisher?
- Why does this site exist?
The SMART method for evaluating sources works especially well for news stories.
- Source: Who or what is the source of this information?
- Motive: Why does the author or publisher say what they do?
- Authority: Who created this content?
- Review: Is there anything included that seems potentially untrue?
- Two-Source Test: How does this information compare to another source?
For more about the SMART method see this excellent page from the University of Washington libraries.
CARS is another method for evaluating any type of web source.
- Credibility - Find a source that was created by a person or organization who knows about the topic.
- Accuracy - Find a source that is current and correct.
- Reasonableness - Find a source that is truthful and unbiased.
- Support - Find a source with verifiable sources of information.
Learn more about the CARS method at Robert Harris' Evaluating Internet Research Sources page.