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Consumer Health: Evaluating Online Information

Online Information

There is an overabundance of information that is available online. Some of this information is accurate and reliable, but a lot is inaccurate, biased, misleading, and/or just wrong. It is important to look critically at all information onine, and it is especially important when it comes to health information. Below are some resources to help guide you:

CRAAP Test

Things to think about when looking online for information

Currency

  • How old is the webpage AND the information? Most reliable sites will provide a date when the website was last updated. A recent date shows that the site, and the information, is being maintained. It is also important to evaluate the information itself to try and determine how recent it is. Old information is not necessarily bad, but a neglected website and out of date information are things to be aware of.

Relevance / Reliability

  • Look critically at the content of the site. Is the information based on facts with references? Does it tell the whole story, or is it biased towards a particular opinion? Does the information make sense? Can you find multiple reliable sources that say the same thing? Is the site trying to sell you something?
  • Look at the sites that are linked, or referred to. Is the site accredited, evaluated, or certified by an actual agency?

Author

  • Can you determine who wrote or edited the information? Are they affiliated with a particular institution or organization that may be biased? Are they someone who is reputable and knowledgeable on the topic? Are they biased? Also consider the publisher of the information.

Audience

  • Who is this information meant for? If it is too technical and meant for doctors or researchers, try finding a site with language that is easier to understand. Is it meant for a particular group or users of a certain product?

Purpose / Point of View

  • Why does the website exist? Is the information factual, or opinion? Is it someone sharing their personal story without any other point of views? Again, are you being sold something?

Based on the CRAP test created by Dominican University Librarian Molly Beestrum.