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ENGL 100 and 105 Maher: Websites

How to evaluate whether your sources are reliable: P.R.O.V.E.N.

Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Process to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible and appropriate choices for your particular research purpose. The process of evaluating a source includes examining the source itself and examining other sources by:

  • Checking for previous work. Has someone already fact-checked this source?
  • Finding the original source. Who originally published the information and why?
  • Reading laterally. What do other people say about this publication and author?
  • Circling back. How can you revise your original search to yield better results?
  • Checking your own emotions. Is your own bias affecting your evaluation?1

The questions below will help you think critically during the source evaluation process:

  • Purpose: How and why the source was created. Why does this information exist, why is it in this form (book, article, website, etc.), and who is the intended audience? Is the purpose clear?
  • Relevance: The value of the source for your needs. How useful is this source in answering your question, supporting your argument, or adding to your knowledge? Is the type and content of the source appropriate for your assignment?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information. How thorough and balanced is this source? Does it present fact or opinion? How well do its creators acknowledge their point of view, represent other points of view fully, and critique them professionally?
  • Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information. How well do the creators of this source support their information with factual evidence, identify and cite their sources, and accurately represent information from other sources? Can you find the original source(s) of the information or verify facts in other sources? What do experts say about the topic?
  • Expertise: The authority of the authors and the source. Who created this source and what education and/or professional or personal experience makes them authorities on the topic? How was the source reviewed before publication? Do other experts cite this source or otherwise acknowledge the authority of its creators?
  • Newness: The age of the information. Does your topic require current information? How up-to-date is this source and the information within it? 

1Based on Caulfield, Mike. "Four Moves and a Habit." Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, 2017.

P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation by Ellen Carey (6/18/18) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Google & Google Scholar

Three ways to Google:

1. Here is a link to www.google.com.

2. Also, try the advanced search page: http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en 

  •    On this advanced page you can use this: "Search within a site or domain" to limit your search to .edu and .org
  •    Use quotation marks for phrases like "what is education"
  •    Always be critical! Information from a .edu or a .org should be approached critically, too!

3. Finally, try Google Scholar: http://www.scholar.google.com

  • It's powerful, like a cross between Google and a database
  • It's a bit frustrating, because most of the articles are not available "full-text"
  • Solution: articles that have "PDF" on the right side of screen often are "full-text"
  • Another Solution: E-mail me the article's citation (the main information about the article) and I'll try to find it

Websites to check news, rumors and questionable information

Icon of paper with a check mark

FactCheck.org: This nonpartisan, nonprofit organization is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Media Bias Fact Check: This site describes themselves as “the most comprehensive media bias resource on the internet" and includes 1000+ media sources in their database.

Politifact: “PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times . . .” *

Snopes: “The definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.” *

Sunlight Foundation: “The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses technology, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all.” *

 

The International Fact-Checking Network: (IFCN) is a forum for fact-checkers worldwide hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. These organizations fact-check statements by public figures, major institutions and other widely circulated claims of interest to society.” *

*All descriptive quotes provided by the websites they describe.