How to Evaluate Online Resources


This week, Mrs. Abercrombie and I were able to meet with the 7th grade to discuss some basic research fundamentals, such as:


  1. How does Google make money? (answer: ads constituted 96% of their profit last year!)
  2. How does Google rank search results? (answer: complicated algorithms)
  3. With so many results, how does a user start to evaluate the quality of their content? (answer: see below)


Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 9.51.18 PM

A recent Google search for “ancient Egypt” yielded over 80 million results! How is anyone supposed to figure out which sites are useful and which ones are dubious?While it’s impossible to provide a perfect system for distinguishing reliable websites from unreliable websites, we suggest you use the acronym CRAP to help guide you in your online research.*

C is for Currency: How recent is the information? When was the last time the site was updated?

R is for Reliability: What type of information is provided? Is it opinion? Is it biased? Are there citations or footnotes? 

A is for Authority: Who is the author or creator of the site? What are their credentials? Who is the publisher or sponsor of the site?

P is for Purpose: What is the objective of the site? Is it providing opinion or fact? If opinion, is it balanced or biased? Are there advertisements? 


If you want to avoid the hassle of evaluating each and every online resource, you may want to conduct your research using the databases on the GCDS library website. These databases are compiled and sponsored by reputable organizations; they won’t contain advertisements for products, and will provide full citations for their articles. In short, the databases are a wonderful place to find reliable, authoritative information to use for your research projects and papers.

We will continue to support you in your research throughout the year, but in the meantime we strongly suggest that you bookmark the library website so that you are only one click away from the amazing collection of resources we have for you. :)



* The CRAP Test was developed by librarians at Dominican University.

Photo Credit: “Zhao!” by kodomut Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC-BY2.0). Accessed 11 September, 2013.


Comments are closed.