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Evaluate Information and Fake News: Evaluate Sources

Why Evaluate Information?

Anyone can put information online. Online information contains everything from useful information to misleading information, advertisements, news, entertainment, advocacy, and even propaganda and fake information. 

How can you tell whether that information is credible and authoritative - either online or published in journal articles? Use the ESCAPE process below to guide you.

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Good quality sources/scholarship:

  • Are clear and well-written
  • Use a calm and objective tone
  • Have balanced and reasoned presentation
  • Show an accurate presentation of facts
  • Document or cite all sources

Scholarly (and research) journals have editorial boards with subject area experts. They examine a scholarly (or research) article for accuracy and objectivity.

Credible information and news sources like newspapers, responsible news sites, and government agency sites also check information and articles for accuracy and how content follows professional standards.

Journalists (who write credible news articles) also check their sources for accuracy, currency, and quality. They report events and news, and if they offer opinions, they are not trying to argue a point or persuade you. If they do give opinions or argue a point, they offer verifiable facts, data, or scientific evidence.

Poor quality sources/scholarship:

  • Have bad grammar or misspellings
  • Use sweeping generalizations 
    • Examples: "All men believe... [claim/content here]." "All women are... [claim/content here]."
  • Use emotional appeals
    • Examples: Mr. Smith is a bad man and a danger to our country. Ms. Smith is not a patriot and will harm our country.
  • Contain excessive claims of certainty
  • Have biased information
  • Offer no author affiliation or contact information
  • Have no (or little) documentation of sources
    • Example: claims or "facts" presented without evidence, data, or verifiable information.

Try It

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Practice evaluating sources using the tutorial linked below. 

Learn More

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These tutorials will help you learn more about evaluating information.

More Research Skills Guides

Want to learn more? View our other research skills guides:

MC Library Research Skills Guides