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Child and Adolescent Studies: CAS 300 Web Site Evaluation Exercise

Subject Guide for Child and Adolescent Studies

Searching For and Evaluating Sources

It is very easy to find an abundance of information about almost any topic on the Internet.  Finding high-quality, reliable information on the Internet, however, can be very, very difficult. There is a lot of information on the Internet that would not pass the CRAAP test!

Searching for High Quality Web Sources

One recommendation for finding high-quality web sources is to place limits on the types of Internet sites you are searching. For example, we learned from the CRAAP test that we should be skeptical of commercial sites that are trying to sell a particular product or agenda. These sites usually end with “.com.”

You can limit your search to government Web sites in Google by typing: site:.gov [skipping a space and then entering your search terms]

You can limit your search to education Web sites by typing: site:.edu [skipping a space and then entering your search terms]

You can limit your search to Web sites of organizations by typing: site:.org [skipping a space and then entering your search terms]

Apply the CRAAP Test

Now that you are familiar with the criteria used in the CRAAP test, you can start to evaluate web sources.

Remember, high-quality Web sources  

      -are written by reputable, credible organizations or authors. 

      -are timely and current.

      -include citations and reference entries that point to specific evidence to back claims. 

      -are substantive and provide in-depth analysis of the issues at hand and/or specific studies.

 

Please beware the following Web sources that generally are NOT appropriate for an academic paper! Try to avoid them.

1. Websites that have a credible author but are not substantive in content

These web sources are written for a popular/lay audience, and can be wonderful resources for the general public who are seeking general information on a topic. However, they are not detailed or substantive enough to be cited in an academic paper, and they often do not cite the sources of their evidence. Keep in mind, these sources may be tricky to evaluate because the author or website provider is often reputable by name.

2. Sources found online that "count" as scholarly research articles

Research articles can be found online outside of the academic databases your instructors encourage you to use. However, an article found on a website would count as a scholarly research article and not a high-quality web source. Oftentimes you can find the title of the journal on the page, but because it may appear in abbreviated form, it may be hard for students to determine the source. Look out for publications with the prefix https://www.ncbi.nlm

3. Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a collection of crowd-sourced articles. They can be written an edited by anyone. Although the reference lists may be helpful to find credible books and articles, a Wikipedia article in itself is not a reliable source and should not be used in an academic paper. 

4. Science Daily/Press release

Some websites briefly summarize and publicize the results of a newly published study. These sources are not appropriate for an academic research paper, in part, because press releases are often written by communications professionals or journalists who do not have knowledge in the discipline of the study. Because press releases intend to draw people’s attention to a study and tend to be very short in length, the results or conclusions may be exaggerated or overly simplified for a general audience. The author of the actual study that is being reported may or may not have been able to check the press release for accuracy. It is better to track down the study and read it yourself.

5. For-Profit Websites

Commercial websites present information that may look credible and specific, but they often do not provide citations or reference entries that back the claims that they make. Even when statistics or citations are provided on a commercial website, we must take them with a grain of salt. A site trying to sell a product may present very one-sided information. Finally, commercial sites may also serve the companies that advertise products on their pages. If a web source contains advertisements, we should treat this source with skepticism.

 

Web Site Evaluation Practice Exercise

Every parent worries about the safety of their child. The risks of suffering concussions while participating in sports has been an often-discussed topic recently. Please use the CRAAP test to evaluate the following web sources. 

 

Website Evaluation Practice exercise

Sample Website 1

Sample Website 2

Sample Website 3

Sample Website 4  

Sample Website 5

Sample Website 6

Sample Website 7

Sample Website 8

 

Questions:

  • Is the author an authority or expert on the subject?
  • What is the author's agenda? Are they trying to sell an idea or product?
  • Do they use evidence to support facts, claims, ideas, or opinions?
  • Is the information current?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest score), how would you rate the website?