Online Research: Evaluating Example Websites

Learn how to choose the best websites to use as resources for your research! URL:

Website Examples

To practice evaluating websites you find, let's apply what we've learned so far to two examples!

Apply the CRAAP Test!

This site is a fairly obvious joke - octopi are sea animals and do not live in trees (in the Pacific Northwest or elsewhere).  However, if the subject were the (not real) endangered Pacific Northwest Pine Owl, would you be able to tell the site was a fake?


  • CURRENCY -  looking at the footer tells us the site was created in 1998, and last updated in May of 2022.
  • RELEVANCE - the audience appears to be adults interested in preserving endangered species; the presence of an online store selling merchandise gives it the appearance of an organization
  • AUTHORITY - the site author is someone named Lyle Zapato, whose name links to a personal website with no scientific credentials; it is clearly stated that "the site is not associated with any school or educational organization"; and the only contact information is the author's blog
  • ACCURACY - most of the sources from this site link back to the author's blog, and many of the others lead to .net, .org, or .com websites written in the same tone as this
  • PURPOSE - the content makes it clear that this website exists to entertain, and possibly for sales purposes; its online store offers stickers, shirts, and more 

Conclusion - this is NOT a valid website to use in scholarly research!

Nutrition Resources

Apply the CRAAP test and the SIFT method to the following websites. Which would you use in an academic research paper?

Lateral Reading: Apply the SIFT Method!

This website looks very professional and polished, and much like other professional health organizations. There don't appear to be any obvious typos and it is updated regularly. However, what can we discover about it when we leave the website and do an internet search?

SIFT Method:

  • STOP - open another window and go to
  • INVESTIGATE the Source - A google search for this site reveals information from Twitter, Wikipedia, and other organizations (such as GLAAD and Psychology Today) stating that the American College of Physicians is an anti-LGBTQ conservative group - and designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • FIND Other Coverage - An alternative organization from the search is the American Academy of Pediatrics. A Google search of this organization doesn't reveal anything alarming.
  • TRACE Claims to Original Context - One statement on the website is as follows:  “[Gender/transition affirming health care] is neither proven effective nor safe long term, does not reduce suicides, and is not the standard of care for gender dysphoria.” However, a search in PubMed reveals research studies published in medical and psychology journals that find that gender-affirming care does decrease chances of depression and suicide in patients.

Conclusion - this source is biased toward one point of view.

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