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ENG 1061/1070 English Composition/Effective Speaking: Evaluating websites

Getting started with background research for composition and speech topics.

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)


For college assignments, ask yourself:  Is it academic?  (written and published by academics, cites sources)

Ideology and quality mapped

More from Robert Harris

Take your information to the Café (Challenge, Adapt, File, Evaluate).

also from "Evaluating Internet Research Sources" by Robert Harris


Challenge information and demand accountability. Stand right up to the information and ask questions. Who says so? Why do they say so? Why was this information created? Why should I believe it? Why should I trust this source? How is it known to be true? Is it the whole truth? Is the argument reasonable? Who supports it?


Adapt your skepticism and requirements for quality to fit the importance of the information and what is being claimed. Require more credibility and evidence for stronger claims. You are right to be a little skeptical of dramatic information or information that conflicts with commonly accepted ideas. The new information may be true, but you should require a robust amount of evidence from highly credible sources.


File new information in your mind rather than immediately believing or disbelieving it. Avoid premature closure. Do not jump to a conclusion or come to a decision too quickly. It is fine simply to remember that someone claims XYZ to be the case. You need not worry about believing or disbelieving the claim right away. Wait until more information comes in, you have time to think about the issue, and you gain more general knowledge.


Evaluate and re-evaluate regularly. New information or changing circumstances will affect the accuracy and hence your evaluation of previous information. Recognize the dynamic, fluid nature of information. The saying, "Change is the only constant," applies to much information, especially in technology, science, medicine, and business.


Left vs. Right

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.


Handout on website evaluation

Print out PDF handout on website evaluation