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Guide to Political Science Resources: Evaluation of Research Sources, Writing and Citing

Essentials of College Writing

Writing at the college level  is an art and a science.  It is usually a student's first encounter with critical thinking and composing under a structured rubric.  Figuring out the rules sometimes is half the battle.  With this guide we are trying to crack the seemingly inscrutable code.  We have tried to cover all the thorny issues you may be confronted with while writing papers. These include:

All these are summed up at the Writing is College Research Guide.  Try it!



Evaluating Websites

When evaluating a website for reliability, consider its URL Address ending:

.com - Company selling something

.org - Nonprofit, but has an agenda

.gov - Government site

.edu - Educational institution

.net - Personal site

A company will most likely give a rosy view of what it is claiming according to its agenda.  A nonprofit organization is not selling something, but will most likely give an opinion that is coherent with its own agenda.  Government and educational sites tend to be objective and cite claims.  Personal sites require no authoritative background to post information.

Other criteria for evaluating sites are mispellings, poor grammar, no citations, incorrect citation format.

Keep in mind that when surfing the web, no credentials are required to post information, only software and access to server space are needed.





The CRAP test is a way to evaluate a source based on the following criteria:


Below are some questions to help you think about how to measure each of the criteria. 



          o How recent is the information?

          o How recently has the website been updated?

          o Is it current enough for your topic?



          o What kind of information is included in the resource?

          o Is content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is is balanced?

          o Does the creator provide references or sources for data?



          o Who is the creator or author?

          o What are the credentials?

          o Who is the publisher or sponsor?

          o Are they reputable?

          o What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?

          o Are there advertisements on the website?


Purpose/Point of View

          o Is this fact or opinion?

          o Is it biased?

          o Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?


Style Manual for Political Science

Critical Appraisal of Information Sources









Critically Analyzing Information Sources: Critical Appraisal and Analysis

  from Cormell University

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