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UMass Amherst Libraries

Information and Computer Sciences

Your Arguments Are Only As Good As The Sources You Use

Not all resources are created equal! Information is plentiful, and anyone on the Internet can make any claim. Therefore, it is important to check your sources -- because your arguments are only as good as the sources you use! Happily, there are strategies to help you determine if a piece of information you are reading is credible and reliable

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 differences between resource types so that you can make good decisions about which ones to trust and use in your own work.

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.

And, review the resource table here: 

Resource Table

How to Evaluate Resources

Below are a selection of brief videos and tutorials that discuss strategies for evaluating resources. Check them out!

Lateral Reading with SIFT

study has shown that factcheckers are REALLY GOOD at determining credibility from clickbait. How do they do it? 

When looking at web resources, such as blogs or videos or news articles, use lateral reading to quickly establish if the source is credible and accurate.

SIFT

Stop: Do you know the resource or the website it came from? Don't share or use it, until you know. (Maybe even if you do.)

Investigate the source: Know what you are reading before you read it. Knowing who is writing/publishing the work and why is critical to interpreting it.  

Find Better Coverage: The claim being made is often important than the specific article or video you are using. Look for additional reporting about the claim that is being made from another source(s). 

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. 

Source: SIFT (The Four Moves), by Mike Caulfield. June 19, 2019.  

CRAAP

The CRAAP Test is a strategy for evaluating the content of a particular piece of information. Read through your resource, and ask yourself the following questions. Do you like the answers you are getting? 

CRAAPImage from Miami Dade College, Understanding Fake News: https://libraryguides.mdc.edu/c.php?g=633995&p=4497812 

Fact-checking resources

These sources can help you verify the truth or falsity of specific claims.