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Key resources for the study of psychology


1. What do you know already about your topic?


2. What biases do you already have about your topic?

What is bias?

  • Bias is a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others, which often results in treating some people unfairly.

  • Explicit bias refers to attitudes and beliefs (positive or negative) that we consciously or deliberately hold and express about a person or group. Explicit and implicit biases can sometimes contradict each other.

  • Implicit (unconscious) bias includes attitudes and beliefs (positive or negative) about other people, ideas, issues, or institutions that occur outside of our conscious awareness and control, which affect our opinions and behavior. Everyone has implicit biases—even people who try to remain objective (e.g., judges and journalists)—that they have developed over a lifetime. However, people can work to combat and change these biases.

  • Confirmation bias, or the selective collection of evidence, is our tendency to seek and interpret information and other evidence in ways that affirm our existing beliefs, ideas, expectations, and/or hypotheses. Therefore, confirmation bias is both affected by and feeds our implicit biases. It can be most entrenched around beliefs and ideas that we are strongly attached to or that provoke a strong emotional response.


3. What about source bias?

Some organizations research news organizations and evaluate the general accuracy of their news reporting and their political positions. Among these is Ad Fontes Media. Ad Fontes has created and periodically updates a Media Bias Chart which categorizes news sources on two dimensions--accuracy of their factual and investigative reporting on one dimension and, on a second dimension, their editorial positions on a left to right scale. Ad Fontes also exposes their rating methodology.

Rating systems like this can be a useful adjunct for understanding the news sources that you rely on provided that you evaluate these rating systems with the same care that you use to evaluate the news sources directly. Sources that do their own investigative work and are accountable to journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy will be more reliable than news organizations that do not commit these standards. How does Ad Fontes do in meeting these criteria for their work?


4. What about search engine bias - our own personal echo chamber?

Search engines use algorithms to find information. Often, this uses your past searches to tailor information to you that the engine feels that you would find interesting or applicable to your situation, whatever that may be. Algorithms are also subject to the bias of their creators. The term for these biases are called "algorithmic bias". Fore more information, check out this page from Valencia College:Valencia College - Search Engine Bias 

Tips for reducing search engine bias can be found in webbook "Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers"


Adapted from Cornell University's Misinformation, Disinformation, and Propaganda: Workshops Page

Types of Information Sources

Learn more: Scholarly versus Popular Articles

Peer Review Process

SIFT Quick Tutorial Videos from Mike Caulfield

What is SIFT?

Infographic: SIFT (Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace)

  • How do you know if the information you've found is reputable? 

  • How do you know if it is right for your project?

  • How can you determine whether to trust the article, journal, website, video, or other source?

One quick and easy way is to follow these four steps as you explore online:



When you first get to an information source STOP and ask yourself:

Do you know that website? Do you know its reputation?

If not, use the other steps to figure out what you're looking at.

If you find yourself going off on tangents and getting overwhelmed, STOP and remember what your purpose was.  Are you looking for a quick and shallow overview of a topic or are you trying to chase down each individual claim in a source? Both can have value in different contexts. Use this moment to refocus on your original task.


INVESTIGATE the source

Figuring out the expertise of the person/group making the argument and determining the agenda behind that argument is the key to understanding what a source is trying to convey and why they are making the arguments they are making. 

Take a minute to find out where the creator is coming from to decide if the information they are providing is worth your time.


FIND better coverage

Sometimes you need to know if a claim is true or false.  To do this you may need to ignore the source and find trusted research and analysis to independently verify the claims being made. This could be as easy as checking a library database or reference source to verify, or doing a Google News check to see what the consensus of the community is on the topic.


TRACE claims, quotes, and media back to their original context

A lot of the information you will find contains evidence that is out of its original context.  Sometimes summarizing or clipping videos and quotes is done with accurate representation, but perhaps it has created a misleading argument.  Tracing information back to its original source will let you recontextualize the material to establish if the source you found was accurate.


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Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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