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LIS2004 Strategies for Online Research | Prof. Machado Dillon

This guide contains resources for students of Prof. Machado Dillon's LIS2004 course.

LIS2004 Lesson 5

Learning Outcomes

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • evaluate information sources for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose
  • differentiate between credible and noncredible sources of information

Information Literacy Competencies

You will apply and learn about information literacy competencies while completing this learning module.

  • The primary competency related to this module is Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  • The primary knowledge practice is to define different types of authority, such as subject expertise (e.g., scholarship), societal position (e.g., public office or title), or special experience (e.g., participating in a historic event)
Why Evaluate Sources

Why do you need to evaluate sources? Isn’t everything on the internet correct? Not by a long shot!  

You are bombarded with information just about every moment of your day.

Media icons

How News & Information Have Changed
Evaluating Sources

How can you choose the best sources for your research?  Watch the following videos to learn more!

Evaluation Strategies

There are many ways to evaluate information and just as many acronyms to help you remember the criteria to doing so. Head to the recommended LibGuide on Acronyms for Evaluating Information to find the criteria that best fits the type of information you are evaluating. Additional resources on a selection of those criteria sets are also provided. Read on to learn more.

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Evaluating Websites (using the RADAR method)

Evaluate sources with RADAR: Rationale, Authority, Date, Accuracy, Relevance

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Evaluating Websits (using the CRAAP method)

This video clarifies how to evaluate the information using the CRAAP criteria.

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Fake News

Perhaps you have heard the terms “fake news”, “misinformation”, and “alternative facts” lately. Let’s find out more.

You need to evaluate your news sources in the same way you evaluated your research sources. To help you, I’ve included this infographic from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.  

Be wary of links that have been reposted on your Facebook or Twitter feeds, particularly the ones that have shocking headlines. Those are called “click bait” and are meant to get you to click through to a site…and sometimes it may take you to a site you don’t want to be on.

Stop and think about what you are reading. Does it agree with what you have read elsewhere or learned in class? Does it go against your core personal beliefs or strongly reinforce them?

How to Spot Fake News; Consider the Source, Read Beyond, Check the Author, Supporting Sources?, check the Date, Is it a Joke?, Check your Biases, Ask the Experts

(How To Spot Fake News by IFLA, permission to distribute)

Viewing List

How false news can spread

By Noah Tavlin

Dive into the phenomenon known as circular reporting and how it contributes to the spread of false news and misinformation.

In previous decades, most news with global reach came from several major newspapers and networks with the resources to gather information directly. The speed with which information spreads now, however, has created the ideal conditions for something called circular reporting. Noah Tavlin sheds light on this phenomenon.

Lesson by Noah Tavlin, animation by Patrick Smith.

Helping Students Identify Fake News with the Five C's of Critical Consuming

By John Spencer

With digital tools, it is easier than ever to create, edit, and publish your work to the world. But there’s a cost. It’s also easier than ever to spread misinformation. And fake news has become a real issue in recent times.

We see this with students. According to a Stanford study, only 25% of high school students were able to identify an accurate news story when also given a fake one. Students also had a hard time distinguishing between real and fake photographs as well as authentic and staged videos.

Researchers used the words “bleak” and “dismaying” to describe it. But it’s not going away anytime soon and that’s a very real problem.

So, how do we fix it?

Well, here’s a five-step process that I’ve used with students.

A word of caution. It’s not perfect and there are probably other models out there but I thought I would share it just in case you might want to use it.

We call it the 5 c’s of critical consuming.

#1: Context - Look at the context of the article. When was it written? Where does it come from? Have the events changed since then? Is there any new information that could change your perspective?

#2: Credibility - Check the credibility of the source. Does the site have a reputation for journalistic integrity? Does the author cite credible sources? Or is it satirical? Is it on a list of fake news sites? Is it actually an advertisement posing as a real news story?

#3: Construction. Analyze the construction of the article. What is the bias? Are there any loaded words? Any propaganda techniques? Any omissions that you should look out for? Can you distinguish between the facts and opinions? Or is it simply all speculation?

#4: Corroboration: Corroborate the information with other credible news sources. Make sure it’s not the only source making the claim. If it is, there’s a good chance it’s actually not true.

#5: Compare: Compare it to other news sources to get different perspectives. Find other credible sources from other areas of the ideological or political spectrum to provide nuance and get a bigger picture of what’s actually happening.

See, when we teach students media literacy, and they learn how to consume critically, they learn how to think critically. And critical thinking citizens are good for democracy. And that’s good for everyone.

How to Spot Fake News


This video provides specific steps you take to evaluate the credibility of a source.

Why We Fall For It

Logical Fallacies

A logical fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. Strong arguments are void of logical fallacies, whilst arguments that are weak tend to use fallacies in place of cogent logic. They're like tricks or illusions of thought, and they're often very sneakily used by politicians, the media, and others to fool people. Don't be fooled! This poster has been designed to help you identify and call out dodgy logic wherever it may raise its ugly , incoherent head. If you see someone committing a logical fallacy online, link them to the relevant fallacy to school them in thinkiness.

School of Thought - Logical Fallacies

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases make our judgements irrational. We have evolved to use shortcuts in our thinking, which are often useful, but a cognitive bias means there's a kind of misfiring going on causing us to lose objectivity. This poster has been designed to help you identify some of the most common biases and how to avoid falling victim to them.

School of Thought - Your Bias Is

Additional Resources


Understanding & Identifying Fake News LibGuide

Websites and Worksheets

Take on Fake

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In this module, you have learned how to:

  1. Evaluate information sources for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose
  2. Differentiate between credible and noncredible sources of information