Validating Borrowed Text

Creating validity of online sources tends to be an issue for students and educators alike.  There are so many ways that writers can go astray if we do not take the time to evaluate our sources.  The first exposure I had regarding the process of evaluating sources was through the lens of OPCVL. 

Our librarian has created a form in which students can put their source through this “test” before ascertaining if it is appropriate for use in their writing.  Since utilizing this process to evaluate sources, I have found other ways to find strong reference sources.  There are a lot of lists on how to check the validity of your sources, there are few actual tools to do it for you, which in a way, is wonderful as I want my students to critically think through the process of how to use internet sources correctly.

One of the “guides” I found is provided by “who is hosting this.”  This 60-second guide to evaluating sources gives steps to take to ensure someone is considering many aspects of their resource before relying on it for their use in an essay or research paper.  I think this skill, like all disciplines, are unfavorable for those of us who are tasked with the burden of doing it (Hebrews 12:11).  This tool will be a great resource for my students as they begin their 2nd Semester Research Paper.

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Other websites offer creative and clever acronyms in which to hook someone to use their ideas.  For example, Kelly Walsh’s 2015 article entitled “Good Tools for Teaching Students How to Evaluate Web Content Credibility” begins with “The CRAAP Test.”  Alright, now that you have finished laughing at the clever title, the meaning is incredibly relevant; the author asks the readers to consider Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose (2015).  The purpose of Walsh’s tools is to help her audience pause and consider click bate, social media, video, and other popular and entertaining sites that can pose a problem when considering credibility (2015).

In Greer’s 2009 article, she worked with a sample population on testing online information by using two cues, “source and advertising” (2009). Even though she was dealing with websites, and students who are conducting research use more academic sources, it is still important to take time and filter searches by considering anything that may draw the viewer’s attention away from solid and evidence-based information.  I notice that students tend to go for the “low hanging” fruit; meaning they look at the first sites at the top of their search. By taking the time to investigate the actual source and what type of advertising either endorsing the site or is using the site as a platform.

Building upon looking at two cues, Jaramy Conner’s site lists many ways a researcher can validate the credibility of online information.  Included is his step-by-step guide that encourages the searcher to check the URL, look at the author, consider the timeliness, plus others so that once the researcher has chosen the information there can be a sense of authority on its trustworthiness (2020).

While there is no magical tool in which to state the validity of an internet source, there are many guides for students to follow.  The process is laborious and necessary. There is no shortcut. This is definitely not good news for students who are spending more time than they wish, yet it is an incredibly important part of writing well-supported assignments.


Connors, J. (2020, February 27). What is a credible source? How to evaluate web resources. Retrieved March 28, 2021, from

Greer, J. D. (2003). Evaluating the credibility of online information: A test of source and advertising influence [Abstract]. Mass Communication and Society, 6(1), 11-28. doi:10.1207/s15327825mcs0601_3

Walsh, K. (2015, September 29). Good Tools for Teaching Students How to Evaluate Web Content Credibility. Retrieved March 28, 2021, from

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