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RELS-214: The New Testament

Objectives of the Evaluating Sources session:

  1. Develop an understanding of where non-scholarly sources fit into the academic research process;
  2. Understand the benefits and limitations of information obtained using non-scholarly sources e.g. wikipedia
  3. Become familiar with a website evaluation tool, CRAAP, and understand it's application.

Pro's & Con's of Web Searches

When it comes to finding information on a subject, the reality is that most of us start with tools like Google and Wikipedia. There are advantages to this approach, including:

  • there are plenty of hits
  • it's easy
  • content is current
  • it is convenient
  • popular content appears first

However, there are drawbacks that need to be weighed.

  • the number of hits can be overwhelming
  • there can be a lot of irrelevant hits
  • date coverage is often unclear
  • it can be difficult to determine what information is legitimate/authoritative
  • it is not always easy to determine biases
  • search engines only index a fraction of the available content
  • some information may be fee-based or require registration

In other words, a website might look good and be found relatively easily...but that does not mean it contains high quality information. Therefore it is necessary to become an expert at evaluating the trustworthiness of content. The same skills you will develop to evaluate websites will also help you evaluate scholarly content e.g. journal articles.