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Horticulture 1100 Plant Information Sheet: Resources

Assignment Resources

The following page will help you evaluate information for your project.

Find written information as well as video tutorials below.

How to Evaluate Information

Use the CARP criteria to evaluate your information sources:
Currency / Authority / Audience / Relevance / Reliability / Point of View or Purpose

NOTE: CARP (or CAARRP) is not a checklist that you can plug an article in and come up with a simple yes/no answer. Instead, it's a guide for thinking about different aspects of information, and making informed choices.

Here's a handy and useful chart:
CARP Criteria (.pdf)


Currency refers to how recently the source was published/updated.

Why is this important?

Knowing when an article was published is important if only to put it into historical context. For instance, if you are researching a topic that is constantly changing, like technology or current events, you’d want the latest info. For factual information, like for your plant research, older materials should be ok because the basic characteristics of plants do not change, and confirming facts across sources helps too. Having material with a date of authorship is preferable, but not absolutely necessary if the source passes muster in the other criteria.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • When was the article/site published?
  • Is there a date available on the site somewhere? (published or copyright)
  • Is the timeliness of the information important
  • for your use?

Authority / Reliability

Authority and reliability work hand-in-hand to help us judge if the information on the webpage is accurate.

Authority refers to WHO has created the resource. Reliability refers to WHERE they are drawing their information from, and how we can tell.

Why is this important?

We want to be using and learning from resources that have trustworthy information.

One way to do this is to try to use authored by people who have credentials or expertise in the field that they are writing about. The author
should have a degree, some proven expertise in the field. It might be they’ve owned a business for a long time, or have a name in their trade. Look for other materials published by the author. If they haven’t written a lot about your subject then be wary of their authority on the subject.

To judge reliability, we can look for a list of references or links to other sites that can help to verify the information. Perhaps other sources refer to the one you are evaluating. This is a good sign of reliability

Some questions to ask yourself:

For Authority:

  • Who is the author of the article/website?
  • What are their credentials?
  • Why would you trust their information?
  • Who is the owner/sponsor of the website?

For Reliability:

  • Does the site use references to other materials?
  • Is the author a reliable source?
  • Would you use the website for other information needs later (did you bookmark it?)
  • Does this source match information from other sources you've found?

Audience / Relevance

These two points help you determine if the source will be useful to you, to answer your research questions.

Why is this important?

"Audience" means asking who the information was written for. Is the information intended for people who do not have expertise in the field? Look at the terminology used in the article/on the website.

"Relevance" refers to how useful the source is for a specific use. When you have your topic in mind while you review the site, are you struggling to see how the site goes with your research? If so, question its relevance to your topic. The material may be credible and reliable, but it might not suit your information need. Do not try to force information sources to work for you.

Some questions to ask yourself:

For Audience:

  • Who is the audience?
  • Who are they writing this for?
  • Is it for professionals or the average consumer?

For Relevance:

  • Does the terminology used in the article/site relate to your research?
  • Is it at a professional or consumer level?
  • Be honest: Does the material really address your information need?

Point of View or Purpose

This refers to the reason the webpage was created, and what perspective the author is coming from.

Why is this important?

This one often takes the most effort to determine. If you are actively skeptical when you review for purpose/POV, you’ll find yourself questioning the overall purpose of the source through deeper reading. If the author is not clearly stating his/her reasons for writing the piece/developing the website, then you might want to look for bias which can sometimes be very vague or seem hidden. Sometimes the purpose of the source is to just inform, to report facts. If this is the case, then your skepticism should guide you to confirm those facts using a few other sources.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the article/website’s purpose?
  • What is their point of view?
  • Are they trying to teach you or sell you something?
  • Is the author trying to persuade you?
  • Is their information one sided or biased?
  • What does Wikipedia or another website say about the source?

Evaluation in Action

Using the CARP: A questionable site.

Evaluation in Action

Using the CARP: An excellent site.

Evaluation in Action

A note about Wikipedia
[Tip: Wikipedia has some very nice plant images....]

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  • Last Updated: Feb 15, 2023 5:07 PM
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