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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

CICS 305 Class Visit

Know Your Resource Types

Information will come to you in a variety of formats. Different types of resources have different authority and credibility cues. It is important to know the basic characteristics of resource types so that you can make good decisions about which ones to trust and use in your own work.

Resource Table Simplified


Also, check out this AMAZINGLY HELPFUL Infographic on some important differences between resource types, such as how much scrutiny they receive before publication, or how long they take to publish, for another look at resource characteristics. .

Lateral Reading Steps

The four moves of lateral reading are essentially about RECONTEXTUALIZING what you read online. In doing so, you give yourself enough information to absorb digital content effectively and make informed decisions. 

  1. Stop: Do you know the resource or the website it came from? If you aren't familiar with a source and its reputation, this is your cue stop reading and start investigating. Don't share or use a story, until you've learned more about it. 
  2. Investigate the source: Know what you are reading before you read it. Knowing who is writing the work and why they are writing it is critical to your ability to interpret it. Take 60 seconds to determine where the source is coming from before reading further.   
  3. Find Better Coverage: The claim being made is often important than the specific article or video you are using. To verify the claim, step outside of the story you found and look for additional, trusted reporting about the claim from another source(s). 
  4. Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media: Very often information online is taken out of context. Find the original source of any claims, quotes, and media for their original context. 

Sources: SIFT (The Four Moves), by Mike Caulfield. June 19, 2019; Introduction to College Research by Walter D. Butler; Aloha Sargent; and Kelsey Smith 2021 .