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WRT 205: Research Tips and Resources (McCrary)

Guide for Robin McCrary's WRT 205 classes, Writing and Science, Spring 2020

Five Criteria for Evaluating Sources

This chart contains a variety of questions that you should ask yourself when evaluating books, periodicals, and web sites based on five main criteria.

 

Five Criteria for Evaluating Sources
Criteria Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating:
Currency
  • What is the publication/creation date?
  • Does this time period meet your information need?
  • When was the last update?
  • Are all the links up-to-date? (for web resources)
Authority
  • Who is the author? What are his/her credentials?
  • Has this author been cited in your other sources?
  • Who is publishing this information (individual, non-profit organization, commercial entity)?
Validity/Accuracy
  • Do other sources contain the same information?
  • Is evidence given to support the information?
  • Are other sources cited?
  • If the information is outdated, does it still accurately reflect the knowledge in the field?
  • Are there selection criteria given for the links to other pages and are the links relevant to the topic (for web resources)?
  • Is the site edited, or does it contain typographical errors (for web resources)?
Audience
  • Who is the intended audience (students, researchers, trade members)?
  • Is this source appropriate for your needs and understanding of the topic?
Point of View (Bias)
  • Does the source present the information from a particular bias or single viewpoint?
  • Does the information contain the facts or an interpretation of the facts?
  • Does the source contain assumptions or opinions that are not backed by research?
  • Does the sponsoring organization or site have a stake in how the information is presented?
  • Does the information contain advertising?

Coronavirus Misinformation (via NewsGuard)

Coronavirus Misinformation Center (NewsGuard Technologies, Inc.)
Founded in 2018, NewsGuard is a for-profit venture that assigns a nutrition label assessment – and ultimately a color coded rating -  to digital news sources.

  • The inventory of dubious news websites tracked by NewsGuard has always been free to access
     
  • NewsGuard is waiving its $2.95 personal membership fee for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis for those interested in downloading their full browser plugin (works on Chrome, Safari, Edge and Firefox browsers, and on Edge mobile browsers for iOS and Android devices)
     
  • The tool can be applied for news website evaluation not limited to coverage of the Coronavirus
    ​ 
  • Students and other researchers are encouraged to apply a wide assessment criteria when evaluating sources, and in most cases not limit their assessments or rankings to any single review source or service (seek out multiple points of view in multiple respected sources).  See also the section of short online learning modules, under "Evaluating Information," within SU Libraries Credo Information Literacy Tutorials.  These review key principles for assessing information sources.

More about NewsGuard:

>and see also, subpages identifying NewsGuard’s leadership team, advisory board and investors 

Fake News

"Fake News" has become a highly charged phrase in the current U.S.political discourse and debate.  While you need not agree 100% with some opinions implied by this chart, Colorado Patent attorney, Vanessa Otero, received some notable attention with her highly detailed attempts to map out specific news (i.e., journalistic) sources- across a spectrum of trustworthiness and reliability.  For context on her reasoning behind this chart, which is certainly opinionated, visit her blog post entitled:

The Chart, Second Edition: What Makes A News Source “Good?”

 

SU Libraries Credo Information Literacy Tutorials also offer a short (5 min) video module on "How to Identify and DeBunk Fake News"

 

 

Vanessa Otero - Evaluating News Sources Table

Evaluating Sources - Additional Guides

 

Credo Information Literacy Tutorials
Syracuse University Libraries
*scroll down to the section entitled "evaluating information"

Guide to Evaluating Sources
Syracuse University Libraries

Evaluating Resources
University of California, Berkeley Library