One way of critically evaluating sources found on the web is to subject them to the PARCA Test.
Why does this resource exist?
- What is the purpose? Is it to teach, sell, promote, entertain?
- Do the author(s) make their intentions clear? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, or personal biases?
- Is the information provided by the resource fact, opinion?
- Does it have a variety of viewpoints and arguments? Do your sources reflect different genders, ages, ethnic groups, languages, nationalities, disciplines, etc.?
Who wrote/produced/published the resource?
- Is the source published by an academic publisher or a reputable organization?
- Is an author clearly identified? What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?
- Is the author qualified to write on the topic? Degrees, professional designations, professional accomplishments and experience are indicators of qualifications.
- If it is a website, does the url reveal anything about the source (.com, .gov, .edu, .org)
Does the resource meet your needs?
- Is the information related to your topic?
- Does it support your viewpoint or provide an alternate one?
- Is the information and discussion at an appropriate level? Who is the intended audience (general population, scholars, practitioners etc.)?
How current is the resource?
- When was the resource published or posted?
- Is this the most current version of this information available?
- Has the information been revised / updated? Is there proof of last update, publication date?
- Is currency of information a concern for your topic?
Is the information in the resource reliable?
- Are the author’s claims supported by evidence?
- Has the content been reviewed by other experts? Is it a peer-reviewed resource?
- Are the language and tone biased?
- Are there spelling or grammatical errors?
Here’s a PARCA handout you can print out and keep.