How often have you found yourself inundated with online information? And how many times have you considered yourself lucky to have access to so much information? Yes, the new generation of IAS aspirants is lucky indeed! All it takes is one click of the mouse to throw open their doors to informative online sources.
The internet has it all and more. Online sources are strewn all over the internet in articles, blog posts, journals and videos. Knowing how to evaluate your online research should be a part of your preparation for the Civil Service exams. This blog guides you with valuable inputs from the top IAS academy in Chennai.
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Taking online sources at face value? Know why it can be a blunder
Online information is present on the internet in three forms:
- Authentic information
- Deliberately misleading & falsified information
- Authentic information laced with wrong facts
Naive people who are unaware of these facts can easily fall prey to rumours churned out by posts on the internet.
Unlike books, newspapers, and journals that double-check for the authenticity of facts, the internet does not function with the same standards of fairness, statistical validity and accuracy. There is very little control over what is posted on the internet, and this reason is precisely why you must evaluate the content for accuracy and reliability.
Never take an online or offline source at face value. Apart from wasting time, you will end up with false information and an exaggeration of the truth.
CRAAP test: Valuable guidelines from a top IAS academy in Chennai
Have you ever heard of the CRAAP evaluation? It is a reliable strategy and solution to assess the accuracy and authenticity of information that comes your way. CRAAP is short for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose- 5 steps to evaluate information.
Although the CRAAP test is handy to assess information from any source, it is the best solution to filter and evaluate numerous online information.
Currency -The time of publication of the information.
Currency refers to the time when the information was published and the time you receive it. It helps you measure the extent to which the information is updated or outdated for the topic of interest.
Tip to assess the currency of information: Look for the date of publication. Most often, it is given below the title or heading or at the end of the article.
Here are the questions to ask in this first step:
- At what time was the information published?
- Have the details been updated or revised since the time of publication?
- Has the author referred to current or outdated sources?
- Is the material outdated for the topic of discussion?
Relevancy: The importance or relevance of the facts for the topic.
Reliable online sources will take painstaking efforts to keep their information updated. Online data never disappears, but it can become outdated and irrelevant to the current times.
Tips to check for relevant content: Again, check for the date and ensure if the information was recently changed or updated.
Questions to ask for evaluating the relevance of information:
- Does the information provide the answers you require?
- Is it related to your topic?
- Is it better and updated than the other sources you have checked so far?
- Is it in tandem with your level of study or, in other words, is it too simple or complex for you?
Authority- Assessing the information’s source.
The source mostly refers to the author, who penned the content. Knowing the author is important to assess the credibility of the content. What anyone wants is information that is given by experts who know what they are writing about.
The author’s information can be found right after the headline or below the article. The name will be followed with a small note on their expertise and experience in the field or profession. If other websites use the information, the author’s name will be mentioned with due credit.
- Name of the author.
- His / her expertise on the topic.
- Check for peer-review or editor’s review.
- Has the author’s name been mentioned elsewhere?
Accuracy – The authenticity and accuracy of the information.
Accuracy is one of the most important points to be checked out, especially if you are dealing with online information. Click and bait headlines can easily lure you into reading an article that is laced with misinformation.
The best way to check for accuracy is to search for the same topic on the internet. You can double-check the facts on a few more web pages before giving the green signal.
Another important aspect to look out for is the use of language. A responsible author will take extra care in checking for grammatical and spelling errors before publishing the information. Poor spelling and usage of grammar show how careless the author is in disseminating the information online.
Questions to ask:
- Are there other sources that have been cited?
- Does the information add value to your knowledge on the topic?
- Are there grammatical and spelling errors that have not been edited?
Purpose- Checking the reason why the facts exist.
Your online resource should have a purpose for its existence. It should be there to teach, inform, guide, explain or persuade. The authenticity and standard of the information will reveal what it aims to impart to those who read it. Good information will be neutral and backed up with enough facts. It will be clear, to-the-point and in no way mislead the person hoping to use it.
- Why is the information present online? To inform or mislead?
- Is the author clear about the intentions of the article?
- Does the author have biased views on the topic?
Check for publication before concluding
Even if the author’s name is not present, there are numerous other ways to check for the content publisher. Look for:
- Website logo.
- The website’s URL.
- About Us page.
- Contact Us page.
- Check for the lock icon next to the web address. It proves the website is owned by a company that has a certification for the same.
Tips to check for trustworthy websites:
- Any website that ends in .org, .edu, or .gov. Websites with recognisable web addresses are also reliable.
- Ensure you browse websites with a lock icon. Web pages without the lock icon are susceptible to hackers. It also means that your connection isn’t private.
Chinmaya Academy for Civil Services: The top IAS academy for trustworthy guidance
Chinmaya Academy for Civil Services (CACS) is highly reputed for nurturing and guiding innumerable IAS aspirants. Make yourself a member of our prestigious institution and put yourself on the right path to make your Civil Service dream a reality. Call us for more information on admission @ 98413 80738
Current Affairs Books for UPSC
The book of current affairs plays an important role in the preparation of any competitive exams. The candidates give more importance to the current affair books as they act as a major pillar in the exams, which includes even the UPSC exams. There are many questions which are asked from the affair books and the happenings having the economic, political and country’s social ramifications. In this case, one just cannot compromise on the popular books which help you to get extra knowledge on the general but important information of the country. These books are available easily and can be bought online too. List of most searched books will give a fair idea about the authors and streams in civil service examination.