What is the source's bias?
How is a topic depicted across the political spectrum?
Domains to know:
.com for commercial
.gov governmental departments, agencies, programs, tribes, U.S. territories, cities, towns, counties
.mil U.S. Department of Defense (including United States’ military branches)
.edu for accredited American educational institutions
.org originally for non-profit organizations, now open registration
Tool to guide you through evaluating a website
How do I assess a source?
Establish how current and up to date the information is.
Check the key ideas and level of detail makes it relevant to answering your question by adding to your current knowledge level without overly complex or technical writing.
Check the author and organizational affiliation to establish their qualifications and authority to speak on the topic
Identify claims and the information supporting them. Look for loaded words and appeals to emotion. Verify information in other sources to be sure it is accurate.
Determine the primary purpose for the information
See the Detailed Source Evaluation Guide
When you encounter information you don't know to be true, you can check your source against the information available in a trusted source.
A very good way to identify reliable information
Why evaluate information?
Evaluation makes space to challenge information and demand answers. Who says so? Why do they say so? Why was this information created? Why should I trust this source? How is it known to be true? Why should I believe it? Is the argument reasonable? Who supports it? Is it the whole truth? What other perspectives should I seek out?
The Information Cycle
There are certain patterns in the ways that events contribute to knowledge. These patterns help us evaluate different kinds of information more effectively.
We start with an event. As time passes, people have more information to interpret and more time to process that information. The information cycle follows this move from reacting, to explaining, looking at the broad impact, deeply analyzing details, and finally, in-depth overviews and analysis
For quick distribution to general audiences; information updates regularly
Authors are generally unaffiliated
Journalists who are on social media often list their employer, but state on the account "all views are mine"
endless unknown participants
Most limited in scope; lacks full details
Evaluate claims closely; the most immediate information has the least oversight in publication
More factual information, quotes, photographs, relevant statistics, timelines, and editorial coverage intended for general audiences.
Authors are professional journalists
News provides explanations and timelines of the event begin to appear
Long form stories begin to discuss the impact on society, culture, and public policy
More detailed analyses, interviews, and various perspectives emerge
Authors are professional writers, scholars, and experts in the field.
Intended for a general audience or specific nonprofessional groups
Scholarly arguments with a factual basis, related to accepted academic context
Focused, detailed analysis and theoretical, empirical research
Peer-reviewed, ensuring high credibility and accuracy
Authors include scholars, researchers, and professionals
Intended for an audience of scholars, researchers, and university students
Books and Government Reports
In-depth coverage ranging from scholarly in-depth analysis to popular books
Government Reports from federal, state, and local governments, departments, and agencies