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ISAT 485: Gender Issues in Science: Evaluating Sources
Course guide for an interdisciplinary class that looks at the scientific process, scientific practitioners, and science students through the lens of gender analysis.
Check for previous work: A trustworthy source may have already doing the fact-checking to determine whether the information is accurate.
Go upstream to the source: Much of the information on the web is repeated from someplace else. What is the original source of the information, and can you find it yourself? Watch out for claims based on "a recent study" if no author, journal, or title are provided.
Read laterally: Try to find out about the reputation of the original source and its claims. A dishonest source probably won't tell you that they're dishonest! Open a new browser tab and search on the name of the publication or company to see what others are saying about them.
Circle back: Sometimes it can be hard to figure out the truth. If you've completed the first three moves but are still confused, you may need to start over. The information you have already found should help you think of different search terms and other places to look.
A source can have true information but still not be appropriate for your project. The C.R.A.A.P. Test is a framework to help you evaluate sources by thinking about their Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. Refer to the table below for a quick guide. The original handout, developed by librarians at California State University, Chico, is available here.
Currency: Timeliness of the information.
How recent is the information?
Is there more recent information available elsewhere?
Do all the links work?
Relevance: Importance of the information for your needs.
Is the information related to your topic?
Is there more relevant information available elsewhere?
Is the information at an appropriate level (not too basic or too advanced)?
Authority: Source of the information.
Who is the author?
Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
Is contact information provided for the author or organization?
Accuracy: Reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.
Are citations or references provided to support the information?
Is the information fact or opinion? (Watch blogs very carefully.)
Was the information verified by an editor or fact-checker?
Purpose: Reason the information exists.
Is the page designed to sway opinion?
Does the author/website show bias?
Is the author or the sponsor of the website trying to sell you something?