Do you want to help your students better evaluate their sources? Given the many types of fake news sites, knowing how to discern what’s fact and what’s fake is more important than ever. Here are some approaches, techniques and library resources you can pass along to your students to help them throughout their research.
There are several categories of fake news, although sites often fall into more than one category. These include:
- False or misleading websites
- Websites that circulate misleading info
- Websites with clickbait headlines
- Satiric/comedic “news” sites
Fact-check like a librarian by asking yourself these questions:
- Are the authors experts? Sites such as LinkedIn and Google will help you check an author’s credentials.
- Can you find the information somewhere else? Verify your information using other sources; some fake news is often recycled among sites. Sites to help you verify claims include Snopes, Factcheck, and Politifact.
- Use TinEye for reverse-image searching; this will show you what other sites (fake and real) have used an image.
- Check the kinds of sources/links in the site. Where do the links point to?
- Does it appeal to your emotions to distract you from fact-checking?
- Look for bias; does it present different perspectives in a relatively balanced way?
- How old is the story? Check the dates. How recent was the story published? How old is the information within the story? Scientific and news stories generally rely on current information. Instructors can provide guidelines for students to determine the appropriate age of a source.
This guide from IU East Library shows what elements to look for when evaluating a news site. Some trustworthy sites to consult include The New York Times Online, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Economist, NPR and PBS. All of these sources rely on multiple sources and have fact-checking procedures in place. Many of these and other trustworthy newspaper sites are free for IU affiliates!
Interested in seeing how fake news circulates? Check out Hoaxy!
Interested in helping your students effectively manage their research and writing processes? Contact the CITL to set up a consultation about your assignments. Interested in helping your students learn how to evaluate sources effectively? Contact the Teaching & Learning Department at IUB Libraries.
Thank you to Meg Meiman, Head of Teaching & Learning at IUB Libraries, for assistance with this blog post.