Where did you go when you had to find information for that last paper you wrote? If you are like most students, you probably found at least some of it by using Google, or another similar search engine. Hey, why not? It’s fast and easy and returns thousands, if not millions of results. But did you stop and evaluate the websites you found? Finding good information may be the difference between an A and a D when you are in college, but between getting the best medical treatment or a sham, the next time you or a loved one get ill. So what can you do to be the best consumer of Internet information?
Well, leave it to librarians to come up with an answer! The original CRAP test was developed by Molly Beestrum, a librarian at Dominican University, and then adapted by the LOEX wiki in 2008.
Using the CRAP test, you evaluate sources based on the following criteria:
- How recent is the information?
- When was the website updated?
- Is it current enough for your topic?
If you are researching in the medical field, you do not want to use any information that is over five years old, unless your paper is meant to be historical.
- Does the author provide references for the data provided?
- What kind of information is included?
- Is it fact or opinion?
If you have to provide references, don’t you think website authors should as well?
- Who is the author and what are their credentials?
- Who is sponsoring/funding the website and are they reputable?
The author should want to tell you about him/herself. If it’s a corporate author, click on the “About us” on the website’s home page.
- Is the author trying to sell you something?
- Are there advertisements on the website?
- Why was the page put on the web?
Every Internet site has a purpose or point of view. When it comes to the Internet, the most reliable websites are those whose web address ends in “.gov” or “.edu.” Anyone can be a “.com” or “.org,” so evaluate them carefully. To eliminate these when searching the Internet, merely put your topic in the search box, then add “site:.edu” or ”site:.gov.”
If you use these guidelines, you’ll never get fooled. Howard Rheingold, in his essay, Crap Detection 101, provides a 1954 quote by Ernest Hemingway:
“Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him.”
AND therefore, so should you!
LOEX (Library Orientation Exchange) wiki (2008). The CRAP test. Retrieved from http://loex2008collaborate.pbworks.com/w/page/18686701/The%20CRAP%20Test
Rheingold, H. (2009, June 30). Crap Detection 101.Retrieved from http://blog.sfgate.com/rheingold/2009/06/30/crap-detection-101/