Why use websites?
Websites may be useful for
1. Getting the most up-to-date information
2. Researching cutting edge issues
3. Getting statistics
4. Finding information for a company, organization, or government agency
HOWEVER, it is often very difficult to find reliable, unbiased, and current websites that can be used for academic research. Use the strategies below to evaluate websites before using them for research.
When searching for information on the "free web", you need to be critical. Here are a few reasons:
The following is a list of suggested websites for culture, sexuality and gender information:
When evaluating websites or any other information sources, use the following CRAAP test to help evaluate the information you find. This checklist applies to any resource you may use for a school assignment but keep in mind that some items are specific to websites.
Currency: The timeliness of the information.
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
- 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 citing this source in your research paper?
Authority: The source of the information.
Note: Domains such as .ca (Canada) or .au (Australia) are country-specific domain names. It is not easy to tell what type of organization is behind these domain names so use some of the other criteria to evaluate the website.
- Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
- What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
- Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
- Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
- Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples:
- .com - commercial site
- .edu - school or university site
- .gov - government website
- .org - for-profit or non-profit organization site
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
- What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
- Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
The CRAAP test is provided by the Meriam Library California State University, Chico.