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Research Skills Tutorial: 5. Evaluating Sources

Intended to help you develop the skills required to complete research assignments

Fake Information, Real Consequence

False, fake or misleading information can have serious real-life consequences.

In November 2016, misleading news sites reported a conspiracy theory that Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington was operating a child sex ring in its basement with help from the Democratic Party. The conspiracy theory was false, and the pizza place did not even have a basement. Though many legitimate news sites reported that the story was false, some adhered to the conspiracy theory, including a gunman who entered and fired shots inside the restaurant claiming he wanted to "self-investigate" the story. 

Luckily, no one was hurt, but stories like these show the importance of thinking critically and evaluating sources of information. 

Evaluating Sources

Once you've found books, articles and websites, you will need to make sure your sources are reliable and relevant to your topic.

You can do this by using the CRAAP test, described in the video below, to evaluate your sources.

Western University. (2012, Jan 13). Evaluating Sources. [Video file]. Retrieved from that true?

Verifying information you find through social media or Google requires a bit of detective work, especially if you don't know much about the topic. The sites below can help you check the accuracy of the information you find online. 

Satirical News Sites

Satirical news sites imitate legitimate news sites but contain fake news stories for the purposes of parody. The most popular satirical news site is The Onion. 

The Beaverton Borowitz Report Call the Cops
Cap News Huzlers Naha Daily
Newslo  News
Reductress The Onion
This is That World News Daily Report  
Infographic with tips on spotting fake news including: Considering the source, reading beyond the headline, checking the author, looking at supporting sources, checking the date, considering whether it is a joke, considering your biases,and asking the experts

With so many news sources available today, it's hard to decide which news sources to trust. In the video below, Damon Brown explains how news is produced and how readers can tell opinions from facts and non-facts. 

Brown, D [TED-Ed]. (2014, June 5). How to choose your news - Damon Brown. [Video file]. Retrieved from 

Why is evaluating news sources so important?
The Internet has turned everyone into a potential reporter, making it hard to separate fact from fiction: 14 votes (5.22%)
It helps ensure you use reliable sources to form and support your arguments: 45 votes (16.79%)
It helps you make informed decisions in your daily life: 4 votes (1.49%)
All of the above: 205 votes (76.49%)
Total Votes: 268