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Evaluating Online Information

Look for Trusted Coverage of the Topic

Once you know more about the source at hand, you'll need to decide if the source you have is the best source for this particular topic or claim. The source itself is less important than the claim or argument the source is making: is the claim true or false? Do other experts believe this claim? Or is it controversial? 

You don't need to necessarily agree with the viewpoints of others--but you should be aware of what others have said so you can make an informed decision. 

Tips for Evaluating News Sources

Factors that make a trustworthy news source:

  • Machinery of care: the publication has a process for making sure information is accurate and makes corrections if an error is made
  • Transparency: the publication clearly differentiates between types of articles, such as opinion pieces; contains links and references; and discloses conflicts of interest
  • Expertise: the publication hires journalists and reporters who have expertise in the topics they write about, and have been well-trained in ethical journalism
  • Agenda: the publication has a primary purpose to inform readers 

National Newspapers of Record: These are considered major publications that have a large, national audience and use editorial and reporting processes that are well-regarded and authoritative.  These newspapers have characteristics that give them a reputation for accuracy and high-standards.

Tips for Evaluating Academic Sources

While the library provides access to thousands of reputable academic or scholarly journal articles, sometimes you will come to academic-looking sources through general internet searching.  This video provides some tips for assessing the trustworthiness of academic sources you find online. 

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