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ME393: Mechanical Engineering Senior Projects : Evaluating Sources

Guides to Evaluating Sources

C.R.A.P. test

Printable C.R.A.P. Test

Ask yourself the following questions about each website you're considering:

Currency

  • How recent is the information?
  • Can you locate a date when the page(s) were written/created/updated?
  • Does the website appear to update automatically (this could mean no one is actually looking at it)?
  • Based in your topic, is it current enough?

Reliability / Relevance

  • What kind of information is included in the website?
  • Based on your other research, is it accurate? ...complete?
  • Is the content primarily fact, or opinion?
  • Is the information balanced, or biased?
  • Does the author provide references for quotations and data?
  • If there are links, do they work?

Authority

  • Can you determine who the author/creator is?
  • Is there a way to contact them?
  • What are their credentials (education, affiliation, experience, etc.)?
  • Is there evidence they're experts on the subject?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the site?
  • Is this publisher/sponsor reputable?

Purpose / Point of View

  • What is the domain (.edu, .org, .com, etc.)? How might that influence the purpose/point of view?
  • Is the author presenting fact, or opinion?
  • What's the intent of the website (to persuade, to sell you something, etc.)?
  • Are there ads on the website? How do they relate to the topic being covered (e.g., an ad for ammuntion next to an article about firearms legislation)?
  • Who might benefit from a reader believing this website?
  • Based on the writing style, who is the intended audience?

(adapted from multiple academic libraries, including Dominican University and Mercer University)

Peer Review

Peer Review is a process that journals use to ensure that the articles they publish represent the best scholarship available. When an article is submitted, the editors send it out to other scholars in the same field (i.e., the author's peers) to get their opinion on the quality and relevance to the field of study, and the appropriateness to the journal itself.

Most databases provide some way to distinquish whether the citation is to a peer-reviewed (or refereed) journal. It is often a check box or radio button.

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