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ENGL 105 - The Activist: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources

  • We need to move away from passive media consumption
  • We need to think critically about the resources we are using and citing in our projects.
  • We all have a social responsibility to share information that is true. This makes us informed cultural producers of information every time we repost, retweet, or share information with our friends, followers, and on the internet.

Use the ACT UP method to:

  • evaluate your sources
  • push against dominant narratives
  • burst filter bubbles and oppressive citation circles
  • set tiny fires to the status quo
  • A - author. Who wrote the resource? Who are they? Background information matters. Google the heck out of them.
  • If you are looking at a website, is there an "About Us" section of the website? Google the website's title/domain name/authors to see if any of them have been reported as a source of fake news.
  • Is there any information about the credentials and backgrounds of affiliated writers, editors, publishers, or domain owners ( etc.). Is there a "Legal" or "Disclaimer" section?
  • Pay attention to the domain name. (.edu, .gov, and .org) as opposed to (.com and .net).
  • C- currency. When was this resource written?
  • When was it published? If you are on a website, can you find when the site was last updated?
  • Does this resource fit into the currency of your topic? Do you need up-to-date, current information?
  • T- truth. How accurate/true is this information?
  • Can you verify any of the claims in other sources? Do the rule of three. Is this verifiable in three other sources?
  • Does the language of the source contain words to evoke an emotional response?
  • Are there typos and spelling mistakes?
  • U - unbiased. Is the information presented in a way to sway the reader to a particular point of view?
  • Is there a conflict of interest? See if you can find out who funded the research. The funders might have a vested interest in the outcome of the research. Remember, research is expensive so follow the money.
  • Are the authors affiliated with any organizations or associations that would cause a conflict of interest?
  • Remember, bias is not always a bad thing as long as the source is explicit about their bias and agenda.
  • P - privilege. There is privilege in publishing whereby mostly white scholars/researchers have the opportunity to publish their research.
  • Ask yourself, are they the only folks that might write or publish on this topic?
  • Who is missing in this conversation?
  • Take time to search for sources/authors who are not represented in the databases so that your research is well­ rounded and inclusive.