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Political Science: Evaluating Information

Fact Checking Websites

Fact Checking Websites

There are a number of very good fact checking websites out there that I go to when someone sends me an email, posts something on social media, or tells me a "true" story that gives me pause.

How do I determine if a website is reliable?


Adapted from the Meriam Library, California State University, Chico

Currency: 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?


Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

Who is the intended audience?  Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs?) Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?


Authority: The source of the information

Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?  What are the author’s credentials or organization affiliations?  Is the author qualified to write on the topic?  Does the url say anything about the source?


Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

Where does the information come from?  Is the information supported by evidence?  Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?


Purpose: The reason the information exists.

What is the purpose of the information?  Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?  Do the authors make their intentions or purpose clear?  Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?  Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

The Basics of Fact Checking

Fact Checking Tips

When you come across articles like this you want to keep five things in mind:

  • Check your emotions- We are less likely to question things that cause us extreme joy or anger. Many websites that want clicks will purposefully create headlines, or stories, that invoke these emotions. If you find yourself feeling strongly about a headline, you'll want to look into it more.
  • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
  • Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally: Read laterally. Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network. We will be covering this more in Unit 9.
  • Circle back: If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.



Adapted from Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Michael A. Caulfield

The Facts About Fact Checking

Have you ever seen an article posted onto Facebook that made you angry? Have you ever shared a link you found on Twitter without reading the linked article? Odds are the answer to at least one of these questions is yes! But How can you tell if that article you shared is real and/or accurate?

This video from CrashCourse by author Jon Green explains how to do fact checking like the experts.

Evaluating Resources and the CRAAP Test from Western University

Watch this video from Western University to get a more in-depth overview of the CRAAP test.

Lateral Reading Tutorial

Lateral reading is a technique used by professional fact checkers to verify information. This video from Brandon Wilkinson from the Linfield Library will give you an overview of how to do lateral reading.

Recommended Websites