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Intro to Psychology | M. Hodgin

Find credible information on psychological disorders and learn to cite in APA format.

Google Tip

To find sites only from a specific domain type (.gov, .edu, etc.) in your Google search, there is a special command you can use: site:.xyz (where .xyz is the domain type you are looking for). Example: searching heroin site:.gov will bring back only .gov sites. Note: you still have to evaluate! Not all .gov or .edu sites will pass the CRAP test.

CRAP Test for Websites

When considering whether a website is appropriate for academic work, use the CRAP text:

  • Currency. Is the information current? When was the website published/updated?
  • Reliability. Is the information credible? Are sources of information cited? Do credible websites link to this site?
  • Authority. Who is responsible for the information on the page? What are the qualifications of the author or sponsoring organization?
  • Purpose/Point of View. What is the purpose of this site? Who seems to be its intended audience? Is there an identifiable bias? Do ads or sponsors provide any clues about the angle that the site might offer on your topic? 

Many websites have an "About" page that provides information about the authorship and purpose of the site and the identity of any sponsors.

This worksheet, adapted from Keene State College, can walk you through the steps to evaluate a website.

Evaluating information / Types of information

For this assignment -- and for any academic work -- it is important to find and cite appropriate and credible information resources. Here is a list of some different types of resources along with notes on their usefulness and credibility:

  • Reference Books: Summaries and overviews of topics. Information generally vetted by editors who are knowledgeable in a field. Examples: Britannica Online; Gale Virtual Reference Library; general and subject-specific encyclopedias.
  • Books: Most books in the library come from reputable publishers and are hand-picked by NMH librarians to support your work here. Out in the wider world, some books come from less reputable publishers or are self-published, which means that you need to carefully evaluate the information that you find in them.
  • Scholarly journals: Academic research written by and for experts in a field. Typically peer-reviewed (reviewed by a panel of experts) to ensure accuracy, methodological soundness, etc.  Articles contain bibliographies and references. Often extremely specific/narrow in scope. Very high-quality information, but not always easy to understand for non-experts. Examples: Science, Current History, Journal of Social Psychology, New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Substantive magazines/newspapers: Articles written primarily to inform or analyze; authors may not be experts, but they typically put careful thought and analysis into their pieces, which are also reviewed by editors.

  • Popular and trade magazines: General interest articles written for the public or for people in a profession. Authors may or may not have a background in the topic they are covering. Citations/bibliographies are usually not included. Lots of advertisements. Examples: Psychology Today, Time, People, Rolling Stone.
  • Newspapers: Current information; written for the general public by reporters who are assigned story topics and may not be experts in the field they are covering.
  • Websites/blogs: A mixed bag, ranging from top-quality information to complete bunk. Evaluate carefully; when in doubt, go back and look for a source whose credibility/authority is easier to establish. (Library databases are great for this!)

For information on some of the pitfalls of getting information about health and science from the popular media, check out "Time To Get Rid of Bad Science Journalism," an article on the blog Debunking Denialism.