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Evaluating Online Sources: Home

Summary: TRAAP

Evaluating sources of information is essential when conducting research for any project.  When considering an online source there are certain questions that need to be asked.  The TRAAP Method is a very helpful way to remember the criteria.

TRAAP

TIMELINESS

RELEVANCE

AUTHORITY

ACCURACY

PURPOSE

Additional Help

Evaluation Guide: Ask yourself these questions.

TIMELINESS (CURRENCY)

  • What is the date of the publication or copyright date? 
  • Is there a newer edition of the source?  Has it been updated or revised?
  • When was the data collected?
  • Has your field of study changed since the publication date?

RELEVANCE

  • Is the information relevant to your project?
  • Will the information be useful?

AUTHORITY

  • Who is the author, editor, or publisher?
  • Are they an authority on the subject?
  • Is the author/editor/publisher affiliated with a reputable government agency, organization, or university?
  • Are they motivated by a cultural, gender, or religious orientation?

ACCURACY

  • Did they cite their sources? 
  • Is the information logical and supported by evidence?
  • Has it been peer-reviewed?

PURPOSE (BIAS)

  • Was the source created to educate, inform, entertain, or sell?
  • Is the author trying to persuade the reader to a specific point of view?
  • Who is the intended audience?

Evaluation Tips

Timeliness - Pay close attention to publication, research, and data collection dates.  Sometimes articles are published long after the data and research was collected.  The statistics could be outdated or even your field of study might have changed since the article was published.  

Relevance - An article may not have the information you need even though it contains your topic.  It might have been written for a different audience as well.   

Accuracy - If statements seem to be questionable, look for the original source if possible.  Even if only one fact is incorrect, chances are there are more and you should consider using a different site.

Authority - Be skeptical when it is unclear who the author is of an article.  Look for the About link within a website to access more information about the author, publisher, or producer. 

Purpose - Use caution when a website utilizes persuasive language in their wording to sway the reader to a particular view.  Sometimes product links are provided for purchasing items - it is best to avoid sites like this.  

Fact Checking

FactCheck 

A nonpartisan, nonprofit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. 

PolitiFact

A nonpartisan fact-checking website to sort out the truth in American politics.

Quote Investigator

Seeks the truth about quotations. Who really said what?

Fact Checking for Health and Science Information

Health News Review

Reviews health care related news stories and releases.

MedlinePlus

Evaluates health information.

Retraction Watch

Reports on retractions of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles.

SciCheck

A feature of FactCheck that focuses exclusively on false and misleading scientific claims that are made by partisans to influence public policy.