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Legal Fictions

How to evaluate sources

Not all sources are created equal. You will need to ensure that the source you are taking information from is reliable, especially when it comes to politically-charged and controversial subjects such as reproductive freedom and end-of-life decisions.

In general, reliability of sources can be ranked this way:

  1. Peer-reviewed journals
  2. Non-peer reviewed texts accompanying peer-reviewed journals (but be aware that they might be opinion pieces rather than statements of fact or rigorous analyses)
  3. News articles and reports of well-known journalistic sources
  4. Other material on the web sites of well-known journalistic sources
  5. Social media and Wikipedia

The CRAAP test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose) can help you determine the reliability of a source.

Media Bias / Fact Check is a site that examines bias in media from all points of the political spectrum. It includes a "Daily Source Bias Check" that examines the truthfulness and bias of various news sources.

See UMass's Fake News LibGuide for more guidance in evaluating sources.

Videos

North Carolina State University Libraries, 2015. What does it mean for a source to be credible? Why is it important to use these sources? How can you tell if a source is credible? (3:14)

University of Western Ontario Libraries, 2012. A tutorial describing how to evaluate sources. (2:16)

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