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Evaluating and fact checking information: 1. Importance of evaluating and fact checking information

Introduction

In an information-rich society, it's vital to remember that not all information resources are equal!
 
When you are looking for information, you are a researcher. As a researcher, you must evaluate the information you find and decide whether the content is:
  • scholarly
  • correct
  • authoritative

Along with accessing, searching, and finding information, evaluating information is vital. It is important to evaluate carefully the sources you choose. Consider what you are looking for and why. When you have more credible sources, the more credible your argument. 

This page looks at the questions you should ask yourself about the resources you search for and discover. You will now become the evaluator. 

You can use the:

  • CRAAP Test and 
  • the 5 Ws to ask questions about websites, books or articles.

Why is it important to evaluate your sources?

When you research, you want to find the best information to support your ideas, discussions and arguments. This requires careful evaluation of the information you find.

It is important to evaluate information. This will ensure you:

  • discover the most relevant information for your topic and assignment
  • to enhance the quality and reliability of your research 
  • find expert views, opinions and peer-reviewed research on your topic
  • to decipher and weed out biased, unreliable and incorrect information

Evaluating information will allow you to recognise and dismiss information that is:

  • unreliable
  • biased
  • unfair
  • out of date
  • incorrect
  • false
  • fake

Evaluating websites and images

black flat screen computer monitor

When searching for information on the web, check out the URL or the web address to assess the authority of a source. Even if the website comes from an official organisation, you will still need to verify the information provided. 

One part of the URL indicates the type of domain:

.ac 

higher education college or university in the UK

.gov

government agency or organization

.com

commercial organization.

.net

network provider

.org

non-profit organization

.int

international

.nhs

the National Health Service

.edu

higher education college or university in the United States of America

 

Also check the following:

Check the About section of the website/organisation

Can't see an About section or it doesn't say much? This could be a sign that the organisation/site isn't credible.

Check the Contact/Contact Us information

Can't see Contact information or how to contact the site with an enquiry? This could be a sign that the organisation/site isn't credible.

Check the appearance of the webpages

How does the layout of the website look? If the design looks strange in any way, this could be a warning sign.

Is it all advertisements?

Yes, you may come across a few advertisements on a website but if you come across more ads than info – ask yourself, what is the purpose of the website? Is it to sell you something or to inform you on your topic area?

Apply the CRAAP test or the 5W's criteria to evaluates websites

turned-onsilver iMac

A handy tool to evaluate images is Google Images (https://images.google.co.uk/) where you can do a reverse image search. This feature is particularly useful for identifying the author/artist of an image and for finding similar images so that you can see how they were used. It's also effective at showing you previous uses of the image online - where and when.

  • Click the camera icon to the right of the search bar
  • You can upload a picture, or paste a URL link of the web address for the image you are investigating
  • Google Images will do a search to find information about the image

When you are researching for information on the web, you will come across many websites and images. It is important to check, evaluate and verify what you see. Take a look through these tabs to get useful tips on what to look out for. 

black smartphone near person

Fact-checking sites

Improve the quality of your research and what you find by checking your facts and discovering what’s real and what's fake. Take a look at the following tabs and useful sites. 

Full Fact 

https://fullfact.org

Full Fact will fact check claims made by politicians, public institutions and journalists, as well as viral content online.

Return to Fullfact.org homepage 

"We all deserve information we can trust".

Reality Check - BBC News 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/reality_check 

BBC Reality Check is a BBC News service dedicated to clearing up fake news and false stories to find the truth.

BBC Reality Check

Snopes

https://www.snopes.com

Snopes, formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking website. It has been described as a "well-regarded reference for sorting out myths and rumours" on the Internet. It has also been seen as a source for validating and debunking urban legends and similar stories in American popular culture.

Snopes.com

Hoaxy® by OSoMe (iu.edu)

https://hoaxy.osome.iu.edu

Although Hoaxy is not a fact-checking site, it is a handy site to visit as a visualization tool that shows how fake news travels and spreads.

Image result for hoaxy

LinkedIn 

https://gb.linkedin.com

This professional networking site can be used to check the qualifications and expertise of authors

Image result for linkedin

FactCheckNI 

https://factcheckni.org

Northern Ireland's first dedicated fact-checking service

cropped-Logo-FactCheckNI-JPG.jpg

Sense about Science 

https://senseaboutscience.org

Sense about Science is an independent charity that challenges misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life. 

 

WHO | World Health Organization

https://www.who.int/

WHO monitors and dispels media generated myths in the health and biochemical sciences. 

Image result for who logo

Media Bias/Fact Check - Search and Learn the Bias of News Media

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com

Media Bias Fact Check aims to identify biased or deceptive news and media practices.  

Media Bias Fact Check

CRAAP Test

CRAAP is an acronym for each step of the process of evaluating a source.

  • C: Currency
  • R: Relevance
  • A: Authority 
  • A: Accuracy
  • P: Purpose

The CRAAP Test was developed by the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico.

Currency relates to the timeliness of the resources or refers to how recent the information is.

Ask yourself...

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated? Old dates indicate that it has not been updated recently.
  • Is it important to have current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are all the links working? Broken links indicate that the work has not been updated. 

Relevance relates to the importance of the information to you and your information needs

Ask yourself...

  • Does the information actually relate to your research or answer your question?
  • Is the information  important for your needs?
  • Have you looked at a range of other sources and been able to compare? 
  • Is it a reputable source for your assignment and are you happy to include it in your research?

Authority simply refers to the author(s) - who wrote the piece. It is important to know whose work you are consulting.

Ask yourself...

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/?
  • What are the author's/organisation's credentials? 
  • Is the author trustworthy or qualified to write on the subject?
  • Can you see any contact information to find out more about the author/organisation?
  • If it is a website, what does the URL (.com .ac .gov .org .net) say about the source? Go to the 'About' section to learn more about the organisation/author

Accuracy relates to the reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the resource.  

Ask yourself...

  • Can you see where the information comes from?
  • Is the information supported by correct and accurate evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another reliable source?
  • Does the language or tone seem balanced, unbiased and free from errors? Think about the source you're reading and look out for bias or errors.

Purpose relates to the reason the information was created. 

Ask yourself...

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Why was it written? Could it be to advise, argue, teach, advertise, entertain or influence?
  • Are there biases?
  • What type of information is it - is it fact or the opinion of the author? 
  • What aim or intent does the author have on writing the piece?

5 W's

When choosing a resource or website, you could use your critical thinking skills and the 5 W's.

You will need to ask your self the 5 W questions:

 WHO - WHAT - WHEN - WHERE - WHY

  • Who wrote this? 

  • What is the purpose of the resource? 

  • When was the resource published?

  • Where is the information from?

  • Why is this resource reliable?

This is another version of the CRAAP test in a different order which questions: 

  • reliability
  • purpose
  • currency
  • authority and
  • accuracy

Books in the library