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Intro to Academic Research: Evaluating sources

Article on evaluating internet sources

Summary of The CARS Checklist for Research Source Evaluation

from "Evaluating Internet Research Sources" by Robert Harris


trustworthy source, author’s credentials, evidence of quality control, known or respected authority, organizational support. Goal: an authoritative source, a source that supplies some good evidence that allows you to trust it.


up to date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive, audience and purpose reflect intentions of completeness and accuracy. Goal: a source that is correct today (not yesterday), a source that gives the whole truth.


fair, balanced, objective, reasoned, no conflict of interest, absence of fallacies or slanted tone. Goal: a source that engages the subject thoughtfully and reasonably, concerned with the truth.


listed sources, contact information, available corroboration, claims supported, documentation supplied. Goal: a source that provides convincing evidence for the claims made, a source you can triangulate (find at least two other sources that support it). 

Beware of CRAAP on the Internet

Evaluating Information:  Applying the CRAAP Test from Cal State Chico.  Printable handout.

Use the CRAAP test (brief version):
  * Currency: The timeliness of the information. 
  * Relevance: The appropriateness of the information for your needs.
  * Authority: The source of the information, the credibility of the providers of the information.
  * Accuracy: The reliability and veracity of the content.
  * Purpose: The reason the information is published.

Website evaluation exercises

Some exercises for practicing website evaluation skills

Tip:  Look for an "About Us" page or equivalent

Exercise 1

Compare these websites. Which are more credible and possibly helpful for a research project? Why? What factors help you decide?


Exercise 2

Which of these would be most useful for learning about the threats to sea turtles? Consider if the information is substantial and what the purpose of the website is.