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Senior Project: Currency

Guide to the research process required to complete the WSA Senior Project.

The CRAAP Test - Currency

When was the information published or posted? - Young man checking his watch - Britannica ImageQuestCurrency:  The timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated? 
  •  Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • (If you are using the web:) Are the links functional?

On this page you can learn:

How to find out when a page was last updated
When the information you're looking at was last published or posted

How to Find Out When a Web Page Was Last Updated

Will there always be a way of finding out when a webpage was last updated?  In a word:  No.  

Unless the website itself includes that information, there is no way of figuring out when a page was last updated that is always guaranteed to work. You may get lucky and find a precise date, but you may also be only able to make an educated guess or find no information at all.

Javascript

With the web page in question open, type or paste the following text into your browser's address bar, replacing whatever is there, and press Enter:

javascript:alert(document.lastModified)

Depending on the browser you are using, the "javascript:" part of the text may disappear when you paste -- simply retype any missing text.  In response, the browser prompts you with the date and time the page was last modified, according to the server that hosts it. This method is not guaranteed to be accurate, especially not in the case of dynamically generated pages. Even if the page in question is a static one, the date may simply be when it was restored from a backup or when its layout was changed, rather than when its content was updated.

Wayback Machine

Enter the page's address into the Wayback Machine and look through the list of results. You can use the results to get a general idea of how recent the content is, although most websites aren't indexed regularly, so you won't be able to get an exact date; also, some websites aren't indexed by the Wayback Machine at all, for a variety of reasons ranging from the site owner requesting its exclusion to the way the site was built.

Source Clues

Check the address for the page, as well as the HTML source for it. Depending on how it was built, it may use a date as part of the address for the page itself (http://www.example.com/2015/01/23/page.html) or for other files included in it (http://www.example.com/images/20150123.jpg), or have a date string as part of the code. This date is more likely to be the date the page was created than the date the page was updated, but it can still give you a general idea of the page's age.

Britannica ImageQuest - Internet computer code; Lines of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

Context Clues

Look through the page's contents for any clues that might help you place it in a rough timeline. These clues usually come in the form of a reference to a particular date and can range from extremely specific to very vague. For example, the birth of Prince George of Cambridge could be referred to as happening "three days ago," "a few weeks ago," "last month" or "two years ago" -- in all cases, the information helps you roughly date the page, but the level of precision varies.

Britannica ImageQuest - A magnifying glass

Contacting the Owner

The last resort to find out when a page was last updated is to get in touch with the owner -- most websites include a contact method, usually email or a contact form. You are not guaranteed an answer, however, and the older the website is the lower your chances. The contact method may be out of date, the website may be completely abandoned, or the owner may simply neglect to respond.

Britannica ImageQuest - Plate 31 from the series 'Tenants and owners', 1848

Storm, Laurel. "How to Find Out When a Web Page Was Last Updated ." eHow. Demand 
     Media Inc., 19 July 2015. Web. 17 Aug. 2015. <http://www.ehow.com/ 
     how_5097865_out-last-updated.html>. 

When was the information published or posted?

Sometimes it doesn't matter if the information you are using was produced a long time ago, for example if you are writing a history or a literature essay.  If, however, you need up-to-date information in your work, then you need to ensure your sources are current.

If you are using printed resources, such as books, magazines, newspapers and journals, check the date they were published, this will give you an idea of the currency of the information.

Look at the websites below; both of these sites may appear as search results for Singapore.   If you were looking for current information on Singapore it would be very important that you chose the right one.

         

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