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 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.
- 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?
- C - 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 Using outdated research to back up a claim is lazy and irresponsible.
- T - 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?
- U - 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.
- P - 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?
Click on ACT UP to see a presentation of this evaluation method.