Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
What Information Can I Trust?
When you use a website in your research, remember to be extra careful to evaluate its credibility. Because anyone can publish on the web, there is much information that is not appropriate. Wikipedia, for example, is not considered a scholarly resource. Anyone can edit Wikipedia, and information is often not reliable.
Use these T.R.A.A.P. criteria to help in evaluating websites:
Key: * indicates criteria is for Web sources only
Timeliness: The timeliness of the information.
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Is the information current or too out-of-date for my topic?
- Are all the links functional or are there dead links?*
| Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
- Does the information relate to my topic or answer my question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too simple or advanced) for my needs?
- Did I look at a variety of sources before deciding to use this one?
- Would I be comfortable using this source for my college 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?
- 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 .edu .gov .org .net*
|Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information.
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed by anyone else?
- Can I verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem biased? Or is it free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar, typographical, or other 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?
You can always ask a librarian or your professor for an opinion about a specific website as well.
The following websites may help you as you complete your research. Hover your cursor over the web link to see information about the website. If you find a credible website that may be useful to your classmates, use the comments box at the bottom to submit the information. We all learn from each other!