CRAAP Test for Website Evaluation

CRAAP Test for Website Evaluation


Hi there this is Adam with the Tulsa Community
College Library and I’m here to talk to you about a test that’s been around for a little
bit, its one of my favorites: the CRAAP test. CRAAP is an acronym that stands for Currency,
relevance authority, accuracy and purpose and its a very useful acronym to employ when
you’re evaluating websites. So lets talk a moment or two about using the CRAAP test.
Just remember, when it comes to evaluating websites, there’s no better tool out there
than your own critical thinking skills. the CRAAP test is just a very convenient acronym
to remind you of the main points you should be thinking of when you are critically evaluating
information and there are a lot of acronyms out there that are useful for this. another
one for example is the ABCD test as well. It does the same thing as the CRAAP test.
Every part of the CRAAP test is designed to get you thinking about what sort of evidence
out there on a webpage is “good” evidence. What can you use to justify that a source is trustworthy
that it’s a “good source” and really when you’re looking at a website and trying
to evaluate it for whether or not you want to use it as a citation source … that’s
what you’re building you’re using the CRAAP test to build a case and the CRAAP test just
reminds you of those little bits of evidence that you’re looking at to build a good case
to use a source. Although we primarily use the CRAAP test for website evaluation, you
can theoretically, employ it with many kinds of information out there. For example, you
could use it to evaluate an article, except at least in the case of using the library
resources, there are already a lot of tools and safeguards that are built in that really
keep you from needing to use the CRAAP test but if you wanted to, you could. Just remember,
the CRAAP test is a guideline, its not hard rules. Not every good source out there
online is going to have every little piece of information. Every “bad” source out there
is going to lack every little piece of evidence. It’s kind of a weighing scale sort of thing. You’ve
got to gather up what you can, and make a judgment call whether or not you feel you
built a strong enough case to use a website. A final part to remember as well is that not
every part of the CRAAP test is equally weighted. Generally speaking, “Authority” and “Accuracy”
tend to be more important than “Currency” or “Purpose”, especially considering whatever
you’re subject or topic material might be. For example, if I am looking up information
on painting techniques – oil painting techniques – well that information has been around for
quite some time, and I’m not really that concerned on how current the resource is. Consequently,
“Currency” might be very important to me if I happen to be looking at information on the
job market for a particular job. In that case “Currency” is very important indeed. Likewise
with “Purpose.” “Purpose” may not be particularly important to you depending on what your topic
or assignment is. If you’re doing something of a political nature for example you may
not necessarily care that a website or a source that you’re looking at is propaganda: maybe
that’s what you’re looking for. So you just have to look at it holistically and make a
determination which parts of the CRAAP test are most important for your assignment. That
said, “Authority” and “Accuracy” are usually at the top of the list. OK, so now I’m going
to go ahead and go through all the parts of this test starting with “Currency.” When I
speak of “Currency” the question that you really want to ask yourself is: “How up to date is
this resource?” and there are things that you want to look for that will give an indication
of the age of the resource. You’re looking for things like publications dates, lines
that let you know when the information was last updated, broken links can be an interesting
thing to look at. If you see a lot of broken links, that is to say that whenever you click
on a link you get that “404” message, it doesn’t lead anywhere – if you get a bunch of those
it can be an indicator that the website or the source is not very well maintained. So
those are just some things to kind of look for and then getting back to things “Currency”
are particularly important for in your field of interest as a general rule science, technology,
engineering, math resources tend to have a quicker expiration date. Often a good rule
of thumb is within the past two years. That’s not really a hard rule, but it a fast and
good rule of thumb. Likewise, humanities topics tend to have a much longer expiration date.
That quintessential example is information on Shakespeare and criticism of his sonnets
those can go an awful long time and be pretty old and still be valuable to mine for information
for an assignment. Here are some examples of where to look for “Currency” on a webpage.
this is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As you can see I have it circled
over here on this part of the page when this material was last updated. In this
example from the US Department of Health and Human Services this webpage the information
is located near the bottom of the page, and you’ll also find that information is quite
often located at the bottom of a page. Let’s talk a little about “Relevance”, the “R” in
the CRAAP test. The question you want to ask yourself with “Relevance” is: “Is this source
relevant to my audience, and to my research?” Some clues that you want to look for are you
can always see if you can pick out clues for your intended audience vis-a-vis the language.
For example, if it seems to be writing for an academic or high school audience or seems
to be writing for a general audience a lot of times if the language is written for a
general audience it will be written at more or less an eighth or ninth grade English level.
Some things to think about with “Relevance” is whether or not the source fits your research
project. Is it on target and why? Also, would you be comfortable presenting this material
to your classmates for example if you’re using this information in an educational setting.
Some additional general audiences that you can look for are educational, general and
professional audiences. Educational audiences we covered a little bit, look for things like
citations styles look for those statistics and look for language to differentiate. In
addition to general audiences being written at more of a basic grammatical level, you’ll
also find that they tend to be fairly free of jargon or specialized language pertaining
to a field or study. They’ll often explain definitions that you have very little background
knowledge in a particular topic with a general piece. A professional audience will assume
that you have background knowledge of a material. For example, if I were to look at a website
that was designed for engineers, I would expect to see professional jargon present, I would
expect to see information that assumes that I have a basic knowledge of engineering, that
I have training in that particular kind of background. One last thing to mention
about if the information is relevant to your topic is to beware the tendency to shoehorn
something. By “shoehorning”, I mean doing a search, finding one of the first websites
on your topic, and after you read it, even if it doesn’t fit with what you’re trying
to say, trying to find a way to cram that into your paper anyway and the reason I caution
against something like that is if your audience decides to follow up on that resource and
realizes that your information is being taken largely out of context, it can hurt your cause.
“Authority”, the first “A” in the CRAAP test. When you’re thinking about authority the big
question to ask yourself is “Who authored this resources and can I verify the credentials?”
So you’re looking for information on the author, and as far as author credentials are concerned,
a lot of websites will have either an “About Us” page, or “Contact Information” page, “Contact
Info” is often what its called; look at those webpages to see if they have any listed credentials
for those people who maintain and update that website. You can also find out a lot about
a webpage depending on what the URL will tell you. If its a .gov, or a .edu you know that
it comes from a government agency or that it comes from an educational site of some
sort. typically, those tend to be a little bit more trustworthy in terms of authorship
versus the .orgs out there and .coms out there. You can also have different types of authors
as I have listed on this PowerPoint in front of me here. You’ve got your typical single
or multiple authors that might be something you would see if somebody was writing an editorial
online or a news article and then organizational and Group authors; the most common of which
that I see are government and corporate. Government authors often a dead giveaway is that “.gov”
at the end of the URL and various bureaus such as the Department of Labor Publications,
often these have government authors, which is to say that not one particular person is
considered the author but the whole organization is considered the author of the document or
the webpage. As a side note, you’ll often see editors, who are not authors but they
are people that prepare and arrange and, well, edit material on a website. Often you can
look at them for guidance on the authority of a webpage. Here are some examples of authors
on webpages. This is from CNN; it has a traditional author. You can see where I have circled in
the article Susannah Cullinane and Madison Park; I hope I said that right. Here’s an
example of an organizational author: the World Health Organization would be who you would
cite as the author for this web source. Let’s talk about “Accuracy”, the second “A” in the
CRAAP test. The question that you want to ask yourself with “Accuracy” is “Can I determine
where the sources information comes from?” Some things that you want to look for, you
want to look to see, if there is evidence, if the evidence is shown, is it cited? Are
there facts and figures cited? You’re trying to establish one simple thing: “Accuracy” at
its heart is “Does a web source cite a fact or figure, and can you follow that fact or
figure back to the original place that the web source got it from, and do they match?”
Some other things to think of with “Accuracy” is the peer review process, which at its heart,
peer reviewed is an academic term for “quality control.” Here’s an example from Healthline.
As you can see I’ve got circled down there “Medically reviewed by the Healthline Medical
Team on June 30th 2015.” This is an entity that is responsible for insuring that the
information is accurate. Last we have “P” in the CRAAP test, “Purpose,” which is to
say the question I need to ask myself is “What is the point of the source?” is it trying
to inform, is it trying to persuade me? Is it trying to entertain me? Looks for clues
in language that indicate the purpose or point of view on the website. Is the source fact,
opinion or propaganda and why? Is this source objective and impartial or do they favor a
bias? Here are some common purposes that you see out there: commercial, informative, persuasive,
and entertainment. Commercial sites are primarily attempting to move a product or sell you a
service. Some examples would be online store and the ever-sneaky advertorial. If you have
ever clicked on one of those at the bottom of a news site sometimes they pop up in the
sponsored links. They appear to be news articles for a couple of paragraphs and then they turn
into an infomercial. Is the site informative? Really the difference between an informative
site and a persuasive site is whether or not you can determine what the position the authors
of that site are taking. If its got a persuasive purpose its going to share information on
a topic but take a particular position. A good example of that would be political organizations
or organizations who champion a particular viewpoint like the NRA or PETA, or is it simply
designed for entertainment? For me to enjoy the content and consume it? Thank you very
much for watching this presentation. I hope that you found it informative. We have an
accompanying CRAAP test handout that compliments this PowerPoint very nicely. If you have any
additional questions please feel free to contact a librarian at a TCC Library near you, and
have a wonderful day!

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