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This guide contains resources specific to the needs of TRIO students enrolled in the Steps to Success TRIO curriculum.


There is no one right way to evaluate information to determine whether or not it is credible for use in your academic research projects. 

First off, Context is key. In some cases, it might make sense to use popular sources to support your work. In other cases, your topic or question might require scholarly articles. Always default to your assignment requirements -- if the assignment sheet says you need scholarly articles, you should probably get those scholarly articles. 

Information is everywhere and misinformation is prevalent. As librarians who are trained and educated to handle information, we're here to help. This guide is designed to help you understand how misrepresentation of information or "Fake News" as many call it, can impact your lives and others. In this guide you will learn simple strategies to help you spot "Fake" or falsified information. 

Fake news has been around for a very long time even before the internet. When you think about "Fake News" in today's world, what comes to mind? Did you know that propaganda is also fake news made to sway the public about a particular person or group of people? Can you spot the difference between satire and actual "fake news"? The drop down tab "Types of Fake News" will help you identify several instances of misinformation or "fake news" including satire, manipulation, fabrication, and misleading information.

If you have trouble deciding whether or not an article or information is trustworthy, ask your librarian!

Simple steps to fact check a source

Try "lateral reading." This is reading outside of the source. When you find information from a source you haven't encountered before, do some research about the source BEFORE deciding whether you should listen to anything the source has to say.

  • Try to determine a consensus about the source by researching it using Google and Wikipedia.
  • When conducting research on Wikipedia, read the citations at the bottom of the page and open the links to those citations.
  • Read a minimum of 4 to 5 new sources to see what they have to say about your original source.
  • If you can't find 4 or 5 sources about something, that is information in itself. It means you're probably looking at a site that doesn't have an established reputation. Proceed with caution.
  • Once you determine a consensus from these new sources, make a judgment call about the original source's trustworthiness.
This information comes from the Evaluating Online Information guide created by Tim Arnold, John Elson, Katie Hassman, and Cathy Cranston.

Use the SIFT method to fact check!

Here are a few simple steps you can practice when looking at unverified source.

STOP Before you start to read, ask what you know about the source or information it contains.

INVESTIGATE If you don't know the source and can't verify it, open up Google or another search platform and do a little more research on the information and source, itself. 

FIND trusted coverage or more information from multiple different sources to a quick confirmation that the original source is reporting the right information. Finding more information from a variety of valid sources, such as Washington Post or local news channels can help you confirm the post or source is true or at least that it's valid.

TRACE any claims, references, quotes back to the original source or study. Especially if it's a meme or video with no other information attached, it's helpful to find the context of how or where the source came about. 

(SIFT was originally created by Mike Caulfield, an educator in digital technology and director of Washington State's Blended and Networked Learning program.)