A Quick Guide for Evaluating Information

What is Information Literacy?

The American Library Associate defines information literacy as the ability to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."

But how do you know the information you are locating and using is valid and reliable information?

Need help determining facts from fiction?  Let us help.

Evaluating Information

Consider the Source

Who is providing the information?  Click away from the article to investigate the site, company info, and its mission--look for an "about" section (usually found in the header or footer of the page).

Ask yourself if this is meant as a joke--if it is too outlandish it might be satire.  Research the site and author just to be sure.

Be skeptical of any news that comes from third-party platforms (such as social media).

Select news sources known for high-quality reporting—search those sources directly instead of settling for web search results or social media news feeds.

Use fact-checking sites, such as:

Check the Author

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who wrote it?  Authors can be individuals or organizations.
  • Does the author have experience working with the topic?
  • Does the author have a degree, or other credentials, relevant to the topic?
  • Does the author have a financial interest in publishing this article?
  • Could the author have a hidden agenda?
  • What do other sources say about the author?
  • Does the author rely on emotion or fact?

Check the Date

When was the information originally published or posted?  Older news stories may not be relevant to current events.

Find Supporting Sources

Read beyond the headline--headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks; what is the whole story?  When you come across supporting sources in the article, click those links to visit other supporting sources.  What do they say?  Does the information in these sources actually support the story?  Can you verify statistics or other data from a trusted source?

Check Your Biases

Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgment.

Be Aware of Fake News

What is fake news?  It isn’t news you disagree with—it is content generated by non-news organizations in order to generate an audience for paid advertisements or to spread unverified/untrue information.

Take a look at these examples of fake news sites compiled by CBS.

Also, take a look at this Spotting Fake News video from FactCheck.org.

Ask the Experts

Librarians are trained information professionals.  Evaluation of information is what we do!  We're here to help you evaluate the validity of information and the reliability of the information source.