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HST 205 / TI 234: Reel America: Film and the American Experience: Finding Sources & Search Strategies

Evaluating Internet Sources

You should apply the CRAP test to Internet Sources, but there are some special considerations to keep in mind. This rubric can help:

Why Does Evaluation Matter?

The Internet is not filtered. Anyone can post what they want online, no matter if it is false, biased, or ridiculous.

Anybody can create a website - and it's getting easier and easier to do so.

You should evaluate ALL information, in any format. 

The websites below are dramatic examples that show why evaluation is so critical:

Recommended Sources

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Evaluating Media

Typically when we talk about evaluation, we are using the CRAP test. This can still be a helpful process, but it doesn't quite fit as well with media sources as it does with text ones. Since there are other considerations fo

Evaluating media: images, audio, video

Magnifying glassVIEWER PERSPECTIVE

  • What do you observe?
    • Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
  • What do you feel?
  • Can the media be viewed in different ways?

VISUAL/AUDIO ELEMENTS

  • Look at the media composition
    • What meaning is conveyed by design choices - color, light, sound, shape, order, placement, etc?
    • Has the media been altered - cropped, filtered, autotuned, etc? If so, why?

SOURCE OF MEDIA

Hands

  • Who created this? Who published it? 
    • Do they have education or experience with the topic?
    • Is there a reason for the creator or published to be biased? 
  • Where was it published? 
    • Why did they choose that particular method? Were they paid?
  • Did they include the work of others? Was proper attribution given?
  • What information accompanies the media file - dates, technical information, context? 
    • Who supplies it? Can it be trusted?

 

CONTEXTUAL INFORMATIONDoodle of swirl with global landmarks around edge

Gathered through your observations, the information provided with the file, and through additional research:

  • What was the original context for this media?
    • What historical or socioeconomic factors influenced the production of this media?
    • Who was the original intended audience?
    • What was the social, cultural, and political climate at this time? 
  • How does this context influence your understanding of the media?
  • Has the media file been used outside of its original context? How has its use and interpretation changed over time?
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The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test

Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose

Man carrying a sign that says "Judgement Day May 21, 2011"

When was the information published or posted?

Do you need historical or current information?

Has this information been revised or changed since it was first released?


BOTTOM LINE: Does this offer appropriately current or historical information?

Image: Bummer by Nick Harris1Used under CC BY-ND

Woman reading a book, looking confusedDoes the information help you accomplish the purpose of your work/paper? Does this easily relate to your topic?

Does this source meet all your information needs or assignment requirements?

Is this source at an appropriate level for your intended audience?

Have you looked at a variety of sources? Why is this source better than others?


BOTTOM LINE: Is this a source that adds value to your work? Why is it worth including?

Image: Confused by CollegeDegrees360Used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Man standing with several cameras hanging around his neck. Cannot see man's face.

Who is the author?  Who is the publisher?

  • What expertise do they have with this subject?
  • What is their educational background?
  • Where are they from? Where are they living now?
  • What political party do they belong to?
  • What organizations or causes do they support?
  • Are there any other biases you can ascertain?

BOTTOM LINE: Can you trust this author and publisher to know what they're talking about?

Image: [Man with Cameras] by i k o. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Is this information correct? Reliable?

Are sources listed? Cited within the text?

Dart board with several darts in the bulleye

  • Are these sources scholarly/academic?
  • When were these sources published?
  • Do these sources come from trustworthy authors/publishers?

If the source conducted its own original research:

  • What methods were used to collect the data/information?
  • What was the sample size or population?
  • Are there any weaknesses in the way that they gather or analyzed their data?
  • Do you feel that they provided adequate support for their conclusions?

BOTTOM LINE: Can you trust that this information is true?

Image: Darts by Richard_of_EnglandUsed under CC BY 2.0

World War Two poster that says "Millions of troops are on the move; is your trip necessary?"What is the purpose of this information source?

  • To entertain? Inform? Educate? Pursuade? Sell? 
  • Are advertisements included? Photographs?

Is the information fact, opinion, or propoganda?

Do the authors/publishers make their intentions clear?

Is there bias - political, cultural, religious, ideological, personal, etc?


BOTTOM LINE: Is this source objective and impartial, or is it influenced by bias or hidden agendas?

Image: "Is your trip necessary?" by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious.Used under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Search Strategies

Search for keywords "Motion Pictures" and "Cinema" or "Film" to get the broadest possible view of the material.  Use both controlled vocabulary (e.g., Library of Congress Subject Headings, like “Motion Pictures”) and natural language, like “Film” or “Cinema.”  To find controlled vocabulary, whenever you use WorldCat (the main search box on the library home page), look at the records that most apply to your topic and scroll down to the area that says “Description” and then “Subjects.”  You can further limit your search by time period, format, etc.  Keep a research log of what controlled and natural vocabulary terms are giving you the best results and keep refining them.

You may need to approach your topic from several directions, looking at both motion pictures and the subject of your research: 

World War, 1939-1945 -- Motion pictures and the war.

Motion pictures -- Political aspects -- United States.

Politics in motion pictures.

Questions?

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