While collecting content from your library and from around the web, you should also be evaluating the information for quality. Keep in mind that not all the information you find online is credible, reliable, or even appropriate for your topic, so it is important to take a closer look at what you are reading. Use the tips below to determine if you should use a particular source for your research assignment.
The term "fake news" is a problematic term. It can easily be politicized and used as a weapon to undermine news sources which may not agree with one's beliefs. Instead, the terms misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information may be better used to describe the many facets of "fake news".
Adapted from: "Journalism, ‘Fake News’ & Disinformation: Handbook for Journalism Education and Training - opens in a new window" by UNESCO - opens in a new window is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO - opens in a new window
Click on the plus signs (+) to get more information about different types of fake news.
The accusation of 'fake news' is becoming a common way to dismiss any news item that people don't like. In light of this trend, it is more important than ever to understand what is NOT fake news.
Breaking News that is verified and corrected as a situation unfolds may contain factual errors that are later amended. Watch for biased assumptions here.
Opinion Pieces, Commentary and Editorials should be labeled as such.so it is clear to the reader. These articles may use oversimplification, hypothetical situations, and hyperbole to make their point.
Journalism that makes you uncomfortable, or that clashes with your worldview.
Image created by Sarah Wasko.
Download the evaluation checklist and refer to it when you need to. Test your knowledge of the CRAAP test below.
Academic journal articles are written by experts in their field to communicate or describe research findings on a specific subject. Scholarly journal articles present original research, while others comment on previously published research on a topic, in literature reviews.
When evaluating academic journal articles for quality, take a look at the individual sections of the paper.
The Introduction should give you an understanding of what is being researched, how, and why the research is of importance. When you read the introduction section of a journal article, you should have a clear idea of what the article is about, and what the research focus is.
An Introduction will identify the importance of the research to the academic field, and provide you with a clear hypothesis or a research question/statement.Questions to ask:
The Results section is where you find information about the final results of the authors' research. Here, you should be able to read about the analyzed results of the study, as well as have access to raw statistical data.
Are these results shared with the readers? Are they clearly stated? Is there access to supporting analysis such as graphs, charts, tables that are clear and easy to follow? do you have access to the statistics? Can you figure out the results of the experiment, survey, etc, without a discussion of why they occurred?Questions to ask:
From the context of fake news, vertical reading involves examining the news source to determine the credibility of a news story. This could mean examining a news website's About Us page, looking at grammatical errors within the article, determining the author's bias, and checking the sources the authors used. However, depending solely on vertical reading can be problematic since content is easily created and fabricated online.
In addition to using vertical reading, another method of evaluating news is lateral reading. This involves going beyond the news source and performing further research on the news source, its authors, and information being presented in the news story.
Source: Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information - open in a new window
Sources: Online Verification Skills with Mike Caulfield - open in a new window; Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information - open in a new window
Filter bubbles are created by algorithms and dictate what we see online. These personalized filters may be based on a combination of different elements, such as our search history, the websites we visit, the posts we comment on, or our location. These algorithms impact the content of our "information diet".
As users, we don't have much control on what gets into our filter bubble, and more importantly we don't know what gets edited out by these algorithms. Filter bubbles could feed us an information diet with mostly "information desserts" and not much "information vegetables". It poses the danger of intellectual isolation where we only see information that reinforces our views, or information that is within our comfort zones. This could potentially hinder our ability to think critically about a topic since algorithms have the power to edit out content which challenges or broadens our worldviews.
Sources: Beware Online "Filter Bubbles" by Eli Pariser; How News Feed Algorithms Supercharge Confirmation Bias by Eli Pariser
Fact-checking websites can be useful tools in determining if a news story is accurate. These sites perform the fact-checking by reviewing the story's claims and verifying the validity of the information and authors. Check out some of these fact-checking websites:
Reverse Image Search Tools: find for the origins of an image by uploading or linking to the image:
There is a lot of talk about ways that tech companies can combat fake news, but there are many stumbling blocks.
Chrome and Mozilla have a variety of browser extensions that try to flag fake news. If you are trying one out, be sure to check what criteria they use to categorize sites. Some conspiracy sites have created their own detectors that will flag all mainstream media as fake!
It will be interesting to watch this technology develop, but for now, we recommend that you be your own detective!