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Some Things to Consider When Evaluating Information Sources:
1. Author / Editor
Who is the author and/or editor?
- The author and/or editor (one or more people or organizations) should be identified.
Is the author and/or editor credible?
- The author and/or editor should have credentials and expertise relevant to the topic.
Who published this information?
- The organization(s) that published and/or sponsored the information source should be identified.
Why was this information published?
- The most credible information sources are those that have been published in order to present balanced, unbiased coverage of a topic (or at least to present both sides of an issue).
- The least credible sources are those that have been published in order to promote a certain point of view.
Is the content relevant to your project or paper?
- It should cover the specific aspects of your topic.
- It should be up-to-date, if timeliness is critical for your topic. (Check the publication date or, for web sites, the date of the last update.)
Is the content accurate and unbiased?
- It should be well thought out, well presented, and well supported with credible sources that can be checked. (Check the sources to see if they are credible and support the source you are evaluating.)
- If it has been reviewed and accepted by experts in the field, there should be less chance for mistakes and bias.
- Keep in mind that a bias can be obvious or subtle. It can be hard to perceive a bias if you tend to agree with the arguments presented.
Tips for quickly checking facts and claims found online
Navigating Digital Information
Civic Online Reasoning
Curriculum created by the Stanford History Education Group to teach students to evaluate online information
Crash Course Videos by John Green
John Green’s Crash Course on Navigating Digital Information, created through a partnership with MediaWise, The Poynter Institute, and The Stanford History Education Group.
Filter Bubbles, Bias, and Cognitive Dissonance
In addition to being aware of filter bubbles and potential biases in information sources, it is also helpful to understand our own biases and how our brains respond to new, potentially inconsistent and/or emotionally charged information.
The links below may help:
Beware Online "Filter Bubbles" TED Talk by Eli Pariser
Although presented in 2011, this topic is still relevant today
This site provides news from multiple sources and indicates the general bias of each source (Left, Center, Right) to help people see all sides of a story.
Background information on cognitive dissonance illustrating why it is difficult for us to accept information that conflicts with our current values and beliefs and how we respond to this inconsistency
Steps for Detecting Fake News
For more information:
To find out if a journal is peer reviewed, you can either look at a print copy of the journal or find the journal's website and check to see if there is a review process. Another option is to look up the journal in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to see if the journal is refereed.