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Research Guides

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Evaluating Sources

Questions to Ask Yourself

Finding information is hardly a challenge in the Google Age. Instead, the challenge is in filtering to efficiently arrive at what is worthwhile. In the book Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload by journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, they suggest asking yourself the following questions (32).

  1. What kind of content am I encountering?
  2. Is the information complete; and if not, what is missing?
  3. Who or what are the sources, and why should I believe them?
  4. What evidence is presented, and how was it tested or vetted?
  5. What might be an alternative explanation or understanding?
  6. Am I learning what I need to?

If you can answer these questions, you will certainly have a very good handle on the credibility and worthiness of whether to include it.

Kovach, Bill, and Rosenstiel, Tom. Blur : How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload. Bloomsbury, 2011.

Analyzing the Authority of Website

Determine who bears the most responsibility for the information.

  • Look for an "About Us" tab or link. If the website does not have "About Us" information on their site, you should think about dismissing it. (Try looking at the top or the bottom footer on the homepage.) If they want to be taken seriously in this day and age, they will be upfront about who they are and the purpose of their website. Determine how long the organization has been around, what their mission is, etc. Why should anyone value their viewpoint?
  • What do others think? Google the name of the organization. See what "the wisdom of the crowds" (or at least the contributors to Wikipedia) are saying about them. What are the odds there isn't a Wikipedia entry about an organization that has worthwhile information to share? Or use NewsGuard. See Adding NewsGuard to Web Searches below.
  • Who likes this organization? Google has an interesting feature where you can see who is linking to a particular site. In the Google search box, type link:[url homepage], such as

"Fake News"

Advice on Spotting Fake News

Adding NewsGuard to Web Searches

NewsGuard thoroughly evaluates over 8,000 online news sites. Use Microsoft Edge browser and download the extension for free. (Otherwise it's a subscription service, $4.95/month.) Use it on laptops. (NewsGuard claims it will work on the app version on mobile devices, but it isn't in the settings for Apple iOS.)

Adding NewsGuard to Microsoft Edge

Within Microsoft Edge, click on Microsoft Edge in the toolbar, then Microsoft Edge Extensions. Search newsguard and click to add it.

When you click the Get button, it prompts you to create an account in NewsGuard. Click the Sign In button, top right corner, and either create an account or sign in with an existing Apple, Facebook, or Google account.

Once you've created a Newsguard account, it appears to want a credit card for the subscription. Ignore that, scroll down to the bottom, and it says Not ready yet? Maybe later. Click the Maybe later link, and it will add the extension.

Using NewsGuard

Once you have NewsGuard installed, you'll see a blue icon with 0-100% to the results list in Google, or at the top next to the URL when you are on a site that NewsGuard has evaluated. The bigger the percentage, the higher the credibility score. Hover over the icon to bring up a short evaluation of how well it follows journalistic standards. Click on See the full Nutrition Label to view a detailed analysis, with references. (You may also run into a gray icon for platforms like YouTube, or an orange icon for satirical sites like The Onion.)

results of hovering over the Newsguard icon, previewing the full nutrition label