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Website Research: Evaluating Example Websites

Website Examples

To practice evaluating websites you find, let's apply the CRAAP tests to the sites below. 

  • First, let's take a look at two spoof websites.  They both have obvious problems, but trying out the CRAAP test on them will help you in evaluating other websites that may fool you into believing they are credible sources.
  • Second, try comparing information on a topic from three different websites to see which would be the best to use in an academic research paper.  Remember to check the footers, top menus, and the About sections of each page!

SPOOF WEBSITE 1

This site is a fairly obvious joke - octopi are sea animals and do not live in trees (in the Pacific Northwest or elsewhere).  However, the site is very content-rich and well-organized.  If the subject were the (not real) endangered Pacific Northwest Pine Owl, would you be able to tell the site was a fake?

CRAAP Test:

  • CURRENCY -  looking at the footer tells us the site was created in 1998, and last updated in May of 2015
  • RELEVANCE - the audience appears to be adults interested in preserving endangered species; the presence of an online store selling merchandise gives it the appearance of an organization
  • AUTHORITY - the site author is someone named Lyle Zapato, whose name links to a personal website with no scientific credentials; it is clearly stated that "the site is not associated with any school or educational organization"; and the only contact information is the author's blog
  • ACCURACY - most of the sources from this site link back to the author's blog, and many of the others lead to .net, .org, or .com websites written in the same tone as this
  • PURPOSE - the content makes it clear that this website exists to entertain

Conclusion - this is NOT a valid website to use in scholarly research!

Apply the CRAAP Test - Nutrition Resources

Apply the CRAAP test to the following websites - which would you use in an academic research paper?  Which would you not use?

SPOOF WEBSITE 2

This site is a little more tricky; it's an example of a website with entirely fake information, but designed to look as if it's legit.  A quick glance at the home page makes it seem like any other research hospital, but look again; the activities of this "medical center" don't bear close examination.

CRAAP Test:

  • CURRENCY - there is no copyright date apparent on the website
  • RELEVANCE - the content appears to be written for potential patients
  • AUTHORITY - the website relies on its self-proclaimed research hospital status as its authority; it is affiliated with a medical school that, according to Google, doesn't exist; and the only contact information is an address that Google Maps cannot find, and an online form that doesn't state to whom it is sent
  • ACCURACY - though it appears unbiased with accurate spelling and grammar, all the information about the hospital, its staff and its research is stated without any references at all; many of the links are not functioning
  • PURPOSE - the site's purpose appears to highlight its so-called medical breakthroughs, but the content reveals this site to be an entertaining hoax

Conclusion - this is NOT a valid website to use in scholarly research!