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Evaluating Sources: EVALUATING RESOURCES

This guide contains how to evaluate news sources, blogs, open access journals, and social media.

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  • In order to be informed 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. We have a social responsibility to others who might be looking to us for information.  We all have a responsibility to fact-check sources before we retweet or repost so that those that follow us are reading accurate and reliable information.
  • By definition, ACT UP means to act in a way that is different from normal. We know that normal 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.
  • ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) is also a direct action advocacy group working to help those living with AIDS. While most think of ACT UP as being active in 1980's, the work of ACT UP is still being done today. Remember, social justice movements take time.
  • Use the acronym below to evaluate your sources answering as many of these questions as you can. 

A

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 (who.is etc.). Is there a “Legal” or “Disclaimer” section?
  • Pay attention to the domain name. (.edu, .gov, and .org) as opposed to (.com and .net).

 

ACT UP PRESENTATION

C

CURRENCY

  • When was this resource written?
  • When was it published? If you are on a website, can you find when the site was last updated?
  • Does this resource fit into the currency of your topic? Do you need up-to-date, current information?

 

U

UNBIASED

  • Is the information presented in a way to sway the reader to a particular point of view?
  • Is there a conflict of interest? See if you can find out who funded the research. The funders might have a vested interest in the outcome of the research. Remember, research is expensive so follow the money.
  • Are the authors affiliated with any organizations or associations that would cause a conflict of interest?
  • Remember, bias is not always a bad thing as long as the source is explicit about their bias and agenda.

T

TRUTH

  • How accurate/true is this information?
  • Can you verify any of the claims in other sources? Do the rule of three. Is this verifiable in three other sources?
  • Does the language of the source contain words to evoke an emotional response?
  • Are there typos and spelling mistakes?

P

PRIVILEGE

  • There is privilege in publishing whereby mostly white scholars/researchers have the opportunity to publish their research.
  • Ask yourself, are they the only folks that might write or publish on this topic?
  • Who is missing in this conversation?
  • Take time to search for sources/authors who are not represented in the databases so that your research is well-rounded and inclusive.