Evaluating Websites

In this section, I'll be discussing a tool
for evaluating information found on websites. When relying on web searching for finding
health information, it is important to proceed with caution. I'm sure you've run across websites that look
sketchy or come from questionable sources. And while resources like Reddit, Buzzfeed,
or Yahoo Answers may be great places to go for casual information during off hours, as
a professional in the health sciences field, it is vital to use current, high-quality resources
written by experts in the field. This becomes especially true when you are
sharing information that you find with colleagues or with clients or when you are using this
information to inform policies or practice. For this lecture, we will focus on evaluating
health information found on the internet focusing on using a method that evaluates currency,
relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose, otherwise known as the CRAAP method. We'll also be looking at the HON code, or
Health Information on the Net, as a shortcut for quickly identifying quality sources for
health information.

In this section, I'll be discussing the tool
for evaluating information found in websites. One effective tool to test the quality of
information you find online is the CRAAP test, created by librarians at CSU Chico. The CRAAP test helps determine the quality
of information. CRAAP stands for the five main evaluation
criteria we use to judge a source– currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. The first criteria is currency. It refers to the timeliness of information
or date the article was posted or when a website was last updated. Another element to consider is whether or
not your topic requires current information.

Relevance asks, does the information fit your
need? Does the information relate to your topic
or answer your question? Who is the intended audience? Moreover, relevance also asks whether the
information is written at an appropriate level for your needs– not too elementary, or too
advanced. Have you scanned a variety of sources before
determining this is the one you'll use? Would you be comfortable citing this source
in your research paper? Authority wants to know who wrote and published
the article.

What are the author's credentials and institutional
affiliation? Ask yourself whether the author is qualified
to write on the topic. Does the author provide content information,
such as publisher or an email address? Accuracy asks you to consider the reliability
of the content. Is the information in the document supported
by evidence? Does the author use academic sources to cite
claims? Has the information been peer reviewed? Does the language or tone seem unbiased and
free of emotion and are there spelling grammar or typographical errors? Lastly, consider the purpose of the article–
why was it written. Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or
persuade? Do the authors or sponsors make their intentions
or purpose clear? What goals did the author wish to accomplish? Does the author or publisher consider both
sides of an argument or idea or is there bias towards one viewpoint? Ask yourself whether that point of view appears
objective and impartial.

Are there political, ideological, cultural,
religious, institutional, or personal biases? This last slide shows an example of a scoping
review that used the CRAAP test to evaluate the quality of online videos. Going through each website that you find on
the internet and evaluating it for currency, relevancy, authority, accuracy, and purpose
can be time-consuming. Luckily, when it comes to health information
online, there is a nonprofit organization called the Health on the Net Foundation, or
HON Foundation, that evaluates health web sites based on eight standards. You can see that their standards are similar
to the CRAAP method, but are a little more tailored to health information. HON's eight standards assess whether the website
authors are credible; the information on the website supports a doctor-patient relationship;
the website respects privacy of visitors; the siteOHON cites its sources and backs up
claims with evidence; it provides reliable contact information; discloses funding sources;
and clearly differentiates advertisements from informational content throughout the
website. A website must apply to be evaluated by the
HON Foundation, and if the Foundation determines that the information on a site is accurate
and reliable, the website is certified and marked with the HON code.

Consumer health websites like Medline Plus,
for example, will display their HON code on their About Us page or at the bottom of their
homepage. Also, you can use a specific search engine
designed by the HON Foundation to search for health websites that have been certified. One thing to keep in mind, however, is since
a website has to apply to be certified by the HON Foundation, not all web sites out
there will have been evaluated by this organization.

If you see the HON coce on a website, you
can breathe a sigh of relief and feel fairly safe about using information from it. If there is no HON code, it is up to you to
use the CRAAP test and determine the site's validity yourself. \r\n Copyright (c) 2014 Johns Hopkins University. All Rights Reserved. Lecture transcripts are copyright protected
and provided to accommodate students under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are prepared as written representations
of the spoken lectures and should be used in conjunction with the course lectures and
not as a substitution for viewing them. If you have any concerns about the transcript,
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