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FOX Health and Wellness Research Guide: Evaluating Sources

Guide to health and wellness resources from the library.

How to Spot Fake News

Evaluation Questions to Ask (Old)

  • Is the source appropriate for the assignment?
    • What types of sources are required?
    • Anything you’re not allowed to use?
  • Authority:
    • What are the qualifications the author/editor/organization has on this subject?
    • Are you able to verify that the information is accurate?  (Does the author cite their sources?)
    • Can you tell who created and maintains the site? Anyone can publish to the web. If you can’t tell what person or group created the site, that’s a bad sign.  
  • Purpose:
    • Can you determine why the source was written?
      •  Explain?
      •  Persuade?
      •  Inform?
      •  Entertain?
    •  What is the potential bias of the author/organization? (ex. The Sierra Club website would be pro-environment)
    •  If the source is biased can you find another source to balance the perspective?
  •  Accuracy:
    •  Are there sources listed?
    •  Can you find obvious errors in spelling, punctuation, etc.?
    •  Can you verify the information in another reliable source? 
  • Coverage:
    •  How in-depth is the information or material available?
  •  Dates:  
    •  When was the source originally published?
    •  If the source is a revised edition, can you tell how much of it was revised or was it just republished?
    • Can you tell when the site was updated last, and if it is being maintained regularly? 
    • If there are charts and graphs, can you tell when that content is from? 
    • Beware out of date content; abandoned web pages are common!
  • Navigation:
    • Is the site well designed and easy to use?
    • Are the links broken?
  • Domain:
    • What is the domain? Can give clues to the content of the website.
      • .com (commercial)   
      • .edu (education)     
      • .mil (military)       
      • .gov (government)  
      • .org (organization)  
      • .biz (business) 


Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

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 (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
    •  Examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Note: the CRAAP test was developed by librarians at CSU Chico

Identifying Primary Research Articles

Look for the following elements in articles you find.  Research articles contain most or all of these sections.  Look in particular for a "methods" section.

  • Abstract: A summary of the article
  • Authors and their institutional affiliation
  • Introduction/Overview
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Findings/Results
  • Discussion/Analysis
  • Conclusions and recommendations for further research
  • References: list of sources used

Identifying Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Articles

Scholarly articles...

  • Have  a list of references at the end of the text 

  • Often feature an abstract (summary) at the beginning of the article 

  • Always list the author's name

  • Are detailed and are usually several pages long

  • Are many times peer-reviewed (or refereed)

  • Are aimed at scholars in a particular field (biology, history, philosophy, etc.)

  • Examples include: Journal of Philosophy, Modern Language Quarterly, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Popular magazines...

  • Often don't tell you who wrote the article or any of the sources they used

  • Are usually brief and offer only general or superficial coverage of a topic

  • Have lots of ads and are usually printed on glossy paper

  • Are written for a general audience

  • Are often great sources for current, general information on a topic

  • Examples include: Time, Newsweek, National Geographic

Who wrote this?

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