First things first: Make sure your instructor allows web resources as references before you use them. Some will only allow references from scholarly journals and books.
On second thought: If you are permitted to use web resources in your papers and projects, you will still want to evaluate the information to make sure that it is an authoritative and credible source.
Some things to consider in evaluating all types of sources*:
Currency: Is the website current and up-to-date?
- Look for a "published," "updated," or "last modified" date.
- See if the links work. This may help identify if the site is maintained.
- How current a source is will be more important in some fields and less so in others. Consider your topic.
Relevance: Does the information have anything to do with your topic?
- Make sure the source is relevant to your topic.
- Who is the intended audience? Is it too elementary? Too advanced?
- Scrutinize a variety of sources and find the ones that help you support your claims and form your rebuttals best.
Authority: Is it authoritative?
- Who wrote it? What are his/her credentials? Is the person an expert in his/her field?
- Who published it? What sort of an organization is it?
- Does the domain name tell you anything? (.com, .org, .gov)
- Is contact information listed?
Accuracy: Is reliable and true?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has it been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information? Are there references listed?
- Is the information unbiased/free of emotion?
Purpose: Why does the information exist?
- What is its purpose? To inform, teach, sell, entertain, etc?
- Does the author/publisher make the intent clear?
- Is it unbiased, objective, and fact-based?
Check the acronym. Did your website pass the CRAAP Test?!
*Criteria adapted from the CRAAP Test, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico