With resources like Google at our fingertips, information isn't hard to find. What is challenging is determining whether that information is credible and can be trusted. Is it factual? Biased? Relevant to your topic?
A Google search is often our first stop to gain a basic understanding of the main ideas about a topic, but since anyone with access to a computer can publish anything online, it is crucial that you evaluate the information you find, especially when completing a research paper, or looking for important information (like health or financial information).
Web sources can be particularly hard to evaluate, so here is a handy acronym to help you determine if a source may be CRAP.
- CURRENCY: How recently was this information published/posted? Can you find a publication date?
- RELIABILITY: Is the information supported by evidence? Can it be confirmed by other sources?
- AUTHORITY: Who wrote the information - are they an expert or knowledgeable in their field? (i.e. For health information, did a doctor or nurse write it? For science information, did a scientist or researcher write it?)
- PURPOSE / POINT OF VIEW: Why was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? Is it biased toward a particular point of view?