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BIO216 Research Skills Guide: Evaluate Information

Evaluate information

Use the CRAP test to evaluate any resources you want to use in your assessments.

Criteria Ask Yourself Example
Currency
  • When was the information published?
  • Does currency matter for this topic?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • When was the webpage last updated?

History of educational theories - older resources may be appropriate

vs

Social media in education -  older resources may not be appropriate

Reliability
  • Who published the information?
  • Is the source reputable? Is it peer reviewed?
  • Does the creator provide references and are those references credible?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

A satirical news website (e.g. Betoota Advocate)

vs

A not for profit media group sourcing content from academics and researchers (e.g. The Conversation)

Authority
  • Who is the creator or author? Sources without an author may be less credible
  • What are their qualifications, affiliations and experience?
  • Are they an expert in the field?

An article written by a self-appointed expert that appears on a blog

vs

A peer reviewed article written by a team of university academics

Purpose
  • Why was the information published and who is the intended audience?
  • Is the creator trying to sell, inform, entertain, persuade?
  • Is it fact or opinion?
  • Is it biased or balanced?

A webpage on diabetes from a pharmacy company that produces drugs to treat diabetes. They may have a vested interest.

vs

Diabetes information from a government website such as Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW). They have no vested interest.

Peer review

Articles published in peer-reviewed or refereed journals have been through a formal approval process. An editor and one or more subject specialists review the article before it is accepted for publication. This process is intended to ensure that the article is accurate, well-researched, and contributes to the body of knowledge in the field.

The Library's Primo Search tool and some journal databases include an option to limit your search to scholarly or peer reviewed articles, while others include this information as a part of the record. While this is an indication that the article could be peer-reviewed the definitive way to find out is to use Ulrichsweb.

Evaluating information

Evaluate internet resources

The type of domain provides you a hint as to the reliability of the website at which you are looking.

.edu (educational institution)

.gov (government)

 

These are more likely to be reliable and unbiased.

.org (non-profit organisation)

.asn (non-commercial organisation)

Sometimes these organisations can be biased toward one side of an issue that is actually quite complex.

.com (commercial site)

.net (network)

Try to avoid these sites as they are likely to be unreliable.

.net is the domain given to any site that doesn't fit into the other domain categories.

If you find a .com or .net site that you think is ok, look at the currency, reliability, authority and purpose to see if your suspicion is supported by evidence.

Peer Review