Website Research: Evaluating Example Websites

Learn how to choose the best websites to use as resources for your research! URL: https://libguides.cmich.edu/web_research

Website Examples

To practice evaluating websites you find, let's apply the CRAAP tests to the sites below. 

  • First, let's take a look at two spoof websites.  They both have obvious problems, but trying out the CRAAP test on them will help you in evaluating other websites that may try to fool you into believing they are credible sources.
  • Second, try comparing information on a topic from three different websites to see which would be the best to use in an academic research paper.  Remember to check the footers, top menus, and the About sections of each page!

SPOOF WEBSITE 1

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

CRAAP Test:

  • CURRENCY -  looking at the footer tells us the site was created in 1998, and last updated in February of 2020
  • 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!

Apply the CRAAP Test - Nutrition Resources

Apply the CRAAP test to the following websites - which would you use in an academic research paper?  Which would you not use?

SPOOF WEBSITE 2

This site, at first glance, appears to give information about a possibly dangerous chemical called Dihydrogen Monoxide. There are links to reports, an overview of the "controversy", and related information. If you knew nothing about chemistry, what would you think of this website?

CRAAP Test:

  • CURRENCY - at the bottom of the page it states that the last update was in 2020
  • RELEVANCE - the content appears to be written for people interested in the compound Dihydrogen Monoxide
  • AUTHORITY - the website claims to be part of the United States Environmental Assessment Center, which when searched in Google, does not exist; it is copyrighted by a person named Tom Way, but with no links or information about this person; Google reveals that he is a professor at Villanova University
  • ACCURACY - it appears unbiased with accurate spelling and grammar; the links are functioning, but the "report" are only text documents within the site; it does link to reputable pages such as the US Environmental Protection Agency; there is a note at the bottom claiming "Note: content veracity not implied"
  • PURPOSE - the site's purpose appears to be to highlight the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide, but we've found that this chemical is actually water - which can be dangerous in certain contexts (e.g. drowning) - but this site is clearly satire meant to entertain

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

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