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Google Like a Scholar

Critical Appraisal of Google/Google Scholar Results

Google and Google Scholar contain a mix of high and low quality information sources. The tools listed below are just a few examples of guidelines that may assist you when critically appraising search results in Google/Google Scholar.


 
The CRAAP Test (Meriam Library, California State University, Chico)

The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

Evaluation Criteria
Currency: The timeliness of the information.
  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • 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 the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?
Authority: The source of the information.
  • Who is the author / publisher / source / sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)?
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
  • 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 unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors / sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

You can download the CRAAP Test PDF here.


RADAR
R - Relevance
  • HOW is the information you have found relevant to your project, assignment or question?
A - Authority
  • WHO is the author? (This may be a person or organization.)
  • What tells you that they are authoritative? What are their credentials?
    • Is the author well known and respected?
    • Does the author work for a reputable institution, e.g. a university, research center or organization (e.g. NASA)?
    • Does the author have good qualifications and experience?
    • What does the ‘About Us’ button tell you?
    • Is other information available about them (e.g. from Google?)
    • Does the URL of the site give you clues about authority?
      • Look for names of reputable organizations in the URL
      • Look at the endings of the web addresses:
        • Government of Canada websites start with: https://www.canada.ca...
        • Government of Ontario websites start with: https://www.ontario.ca...
        • -.edu or.ac indicate universities (but be careful because these addresses may also be used by students: % or ~ before a name indicates that the author is a student)
        • -.gov indicates official US government sites
        • -.org indicates a non-profit organization
  • Does knowing the authority of the site help you make a judgment about the ACCURACY of the information?
  • Even if you have doubts about the authority of the site, does it contain links to other
    authoritative or helpful sources?
D- Date
  • WHEN was the information published? Is the publication date important to you?
A - Appearance
  • WHAT CLUES can you get from the APPEARANCE of the source?
  • Does the information look serious and professional? Does it have citations and references?
  • Is it written in formal, academic language? Or does it look as if it was written by a non-professional?
  • Does it look as if it was published for children? Or to sell something?
R - Reason for Writing
  • WHY did the writer publish this?
  • To produce a balanced, well-researched, professional piece of work to add to the body of knowledge?
  • Was it written as part of an ongoing debate, to counter an opposing claim?
  • Or is it for propaganda, and biased? Note: a biased or problematic site may still be useful to you; the key is to recognize its bias or limitations.
  • Or was it written in order to sell something? *Or is it a spoof site, written for fun?

Adapted from: Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sources. Journal of Information Science, 39(4), 470-478.


The DISCERN Instrument

A brief questionnaire which provides users with a valid and reliable way of assessing the quality of written information on treatment choices for a health problem. Can also be used by authors and publishers of information on treatment choices as a guide to the standard which users are entitled to expect.


Source: How to Spot Fake News – COVID-19 Edition. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Accessed from: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/93015 [July 14, 2020]