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Library DIY

A how-to guide with advice, videos, tutorials, and quizzes

a. Objectivity in Reporting 

Advice

  • First, it's important to understand that there are different categories of journalism:
    • Persuasive, where the author’s goal is to convince you that their point of view is correct.
      • Accounts, columns, commentary, editorials, opinion editorials, and reviews.
    • Objective, which conveys facts.
      • Reports and articles.
    • These terms can refer to either a persuasive or objective work: “feature,” “item,” “piece,” “story,” and “write-up.”
  • Evaluate a piece of news by:
    • Noticing headlines, specific words, and phrasing, which help you determine if a news item is persuasive or objective. 
    • Asking yourself these questions:
      • Was the work written in the first person?
      • Where did you find the piece? (In the editorials, in a letter to the editor, or elsewhere?)
      • Which words did the author emphasize? Were the terms positive or negative?
      • How does the page design highlight certain pieces of the item?
      • Why did the author choose certain quotes?
      • Are there photos? Why do you think the images were chosen? Do they evoke certain emotions?

 

b. The CRAAP Test

Advice

CRAAP is an acronym for the general categories of criteria that can be used to evaluate information you find. The CRAAP TTEst is used frequently at UHMC. If the information doesn't "pass the test" (download the score sheet here), you probably should not use it as a source. While using the CRAAP test is not fool-proof, it will definitely give you the tools to make an educated decision. 


Currency

  • When was it published/posted or last updated?

  • Do you need current information, or are older sources acceptable?

​Currency on the Web - This refers to how new or old is the information. For some topics, information from just a couple of years ago may be out of date.  It really depends on the topic.

The first thing that you should do is look for dates on websites.  Has it been updated recently?  Or, has it been a while since the last update?  If it has been a while, then you may have out of date information.  Some information expires much quicker than others.  If the website is on the topic of science, technology, or business, then information on these subjects have a much shorter shelf life than information on humanities or social sciences.

Next Look for broken links.  Are there a lot?  If so, then it may have been a while since the last time this website was updated.

Relevance

  • Does it relate to your topic or answer your question?

  • Who is the intended audience?

  • Is the information at an appropriate level?  Too advanced?  Too easy?

​Relevancy on the Web – Is the information on the website relevant to what you need?  Look at the scope of the site and its focus. Is that your topic? Is it a closely related topic?  These are the questions you need to ask yourself so that your research does not go off on a tangent.

Authority

  • Who is the author, publisher, source, or sponsor?

  • What are their credentials or organizational affiliations?

  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?

Authority on the Web – Who is the author or creator of the website?  This information should be located somewhere on a website.  What are the author’s credentials?  What are their affiliations?  Can you verify their qualifications?

You need to look at who is hosting or sponsoring websites.  All organizations have a point of view and the website may only give information relevant to their own point of view.  Always consider what is the information for the other side of the argument.

Look at the domain.  Is it a .com, .org, .edu, or .gov?  Each of these domains have a different meaning.  If the domain has the names GeoCities, Yahoo, AngelFire, etc., these are all free websites and anyone with access to a computer can create them.

Accuracy

  • Where does the information come from?

  • Is the information supported by evidence?

  • Has it been reviewed or refereed?

Accuracy on the Web – Does the website give sources for the information provided?  Information given should be supported by a bibliography or a list of references.  Look for this information.  Are the facts verifiable?  Are they in line with information found on other websites?  Do the pages on this website have authors?  Do they have attribution?

If the website has a bibliography or a reference list, are the sources credible?  Do you recognize the sources? Are they current?  Do they point to external websites?  Or, do they just point to different pages on the same website?

Purpose

  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?

  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?

  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial, free of emotion, and unbiased?

​Purpose on the Web – What is the purpose of this site?  Remember back to authority.  Is it an organization with a point of view or an agenda that they wish to further?  What is the site trying to do?  Entertain?  Inform?  Persuade?  Sell you something?

Is the author biased?  Is the information presented in a fair, balanced, and moderate manner?  Or it is emotional and extreme?  Is there a sponsor?   This could give you a clue as to the purpose.


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