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Health Research Guide: Evaluation

A guide to help you getting started with your research for Nursing and Health Sciences.

Evaluating different sources

Different sources can be used for different purposes.  Some such as Blogs and Wikipedia may be useful to give you background information to help you gain an understanding of your topic but it will NOT be acceptable as a reference to support your assignment.

Improve your understanding of how to assess the credibility of a web site or blog.

CRAAP Test - Summary

The CRAAP test had its origins in the US to help students successfully evaluate and find reliable information. The test has seen many variations but in general if something is CRAAP, that's a good thing! CRAAP stands for: 

Currency - the timeliness of the information

Relevant - the importance of the information for your needs

Authoritative - the source of the information

Accurate - the reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the information listed   

Purpose - the reason why the resource was created

Evaluating sources

Gauging credibility

CRAAP Test - Activity

Searching for your keywords in Google comes up with lots and lots of results. But are they suitable to use as an information source (and reference) in academic assignments?

Activity: Use the following evaluation criteria to assess the following online resources that were located in a search for 'indigenous alcohol mortality'.

Currency - the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been reviewed or updated?  Are the links current and functional if it is a website?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older resources work as well?

Relevance - the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience? 
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (ie not too basic or too advanced for your needs?)
  • Is the information unique? (Can it be found in a scholarly book or article rather than a website)              

Authority - the source of the information

  • Who is the author / publisher / source / sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organisational affiliations?
  • Are the author/s recognised experts in their field (qualified to write on the topic)?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the sources eg .com, .edu, .gov, .au
  • Is there an "about us" page which tells you who runs the site and what it's purpose is?

Accuracy - the reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the information listed   

  • Is it clear where the information comes from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence? Has the author cited the sources they used?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Is the source free from spelling, grammar or typing errors?

Purpose - the reason why the resource was created

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform or teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Does the author make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial or does the information include strong ideas and words that could signal a bias on the part of the author?
  • Is it trying to inform you or sell you something?
  • Does it make reasonable statements? Or dramatic claims?

Remember that you may need to dig deeper and have a look at the About / Contact pages to get a better idea of the website or author's credentials.

Applying the CRAAP test

Review the following websites in light of the evaluation criteria to determine if they are appropriate to use for your academic assignments.

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