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BOS 101: Boston Childhoods: Evaluating Sources




In order to be responsible cultural producers of information (as opposed to being cultural consumers), we need to think critically about the resources we are using and citing in our projects. It is no longer enough to just say a resource is peer-reviewed or scholarly. We are now aware of the institutionalized oppressions that exist in the publication and dissemination of information. 

We have a social responsibility to others who might be looking at us for information. Think about things you retweet, repost, etc. You have a responsibility to fact-check those resources before you retweet or repost, which in essence is you giving your stamp of approval that the information is accurate and reliable.

By definition, ACT UP means to act in a way that is different from normal. We know that normal or the status quo usually means the patriarchy and the systemic oppression of POC and other marginalized groups' contributions to the conversation.

To ACT UP, means to actively engage in dismantling oppressions and acting upwards to create a more socially just system.

  • - author.   Who wrote the resource? Who are they? Background information matters. Google the heck out of them. If  you are looking at a website, is there an “About Us” section of the website? Google the website’s title/domain name/authors to see if any of them have been reported as a source of fake news. Is there any information about the credentials and backgrounds of affiliated writers, editors, publishers, or domain owners ( etc.). Is there a “Legal” or “Disclaimer” section?
  • - currency. When was this resource written? When was it published? Does this resource fit into the currency of your topic? Using outdated research to back up a claim is lazy and irresponsible.
  • - truth. How accurate/true is this information? Can you verify any of the claims in other sources? Does the language of the source contain words to evoke an emotional response? Are there typos and spelling mistakes?
  • - unbiased. Is the information presented to sway the audience to a particular point of view? Resources unless otherwise stated should be impartial. Remember, bias is not always a bad thing as long as the source is explicit about their bias and agenda.
  • - privilege.  Check the privilege of the author(s). Why is this research present in the database? Are they the only folks that might write or publish on this topic? Who is missing in this conversation? Critically evaluate the subject terms associated with each resource you found. How are they described? What are the inherent biases?


Here are some reliable sites to use for fact-checking.

Media Bias/Fact Check

Tips for Checking News:

  1. When you open up a news article in your browser, open a second, empty tab.  Use that second window to look up claims, author credentials and organizations that you come across in the article.
  2. Fake news spans across all kinds of media - printed and online articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, radio shows, even still images. 
  3. For images, put them into Google images and search. Verify that what you are seeing corresponds to the event in question.
  4.  Check the account history of the source. Two red flags are: the number of posts and how long the account has been active. If it claims to be a well know source(like CNN or CBS) and only has a few posts in its history that is a clue. If it's a well know source and the account has only been active a short time that is another red flag.
  5. Think before you share.
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