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Information and Computer Sciences

Finding Reliable Resources

Not all resources are created equal! Because anyone on the Internet can make any claim, it is important to check your resources. It is your responsibility, as a researcher, to make sure your resources check out.

There are many resources that Google does not or cannot find. Many scholarly articles -- the articles written by your professors and professionals in the field -- are hidden behind a paywall.

Use the following guidelines -- called the CRAAP test -- to help you figure out whether or not a source is reliable, relevant, and trustworthy. You should be able to find answers to most, if not all, of the questions below.


There are many videos to watch, too -- see the end of the guide. Librarians love making videos about the CRAAP test!

Currency:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been updated?
  • Is this information current enough for your topic?

Relevance

  • Does the information relate to your topic, or answer your question?
  • Who was this resource written for?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e., not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
  • Are the topics explored in depth?

Authority

  • Who is the author or creator?
  • What are the author's credentials for writing about this topic (i.e., is this written by an expert)?
  • How reputable is this publisher?
  • Is this source affiliated with an organization? How reputable is the organization?
  • Does the information provide references or sources for data or quotations?

Accuracy

  • Where does the information come from?
  • How reliable and free from error is the information? How would you know?
  • Were there editors and fact checkers?
  • Is the information supported by evidence (i.e, provides sources for data)?
  • Can you verify the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Is the content primarily opinion?
  • Is it balanced with multiple points of view?
  • Does the language seem unbiased, and free of emotion?

Purpose

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Is it fact or opinion?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • Is the resource trying to sway the reader?
  • Who is responsible for sharing the information?
  • Is the author or creator trying to sell you something?
  • Do the authors or sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?

Where to Research

All of these resources listed below can be accessed through the Libraries' main page. The Libraries pay for subscriptions to many journals and databases, which gives you access to many resources that are otherwise behind a paywall for folks without access to a major research library.
When you start your research with the Library, you are also starting in the right place, which saves you time!


Articles:

 Current events:

  • Science Daily - Computers & Math Section
    ★ A great place to get started if you can't figure out a topic to research! ★ Current events in computer science. Will often point you to the original paper or source of information. 

 Legislation and Policy:

 Encyclopedias (background information):

Other information

  • Safari Books Online
    Guides and manuals from reputable publishers in Computer Science, like O'Reilly, Oracle Press, and Microsoft.

Writing a White Paper

White papers can be difficult to locate -- there is no single database that collects white papers! A search using the Libraries' Discovery Service is one way to find White Papers, and Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers methods for how to write a white paper.

Tools

Reference managers

These help you manage the resources you find, and write bibliographies for your papers.

Concept mapping

Concept maps help you make a plan, and help you visualize your thoughts!

Project management

Try using one of these tools to manage your work.

Secure storage

A free and secure storage solution offered by UMass Amherst.

RefWorks bubbl.us Trello Box @ UMass
Zotero coggle.it Asana
Mindomo

Video: The CRAAP Test

Video: The CRAP Test in Action

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