Take bearings: Before diving into an article, take a step back to survey the digital landscape. What do you know about the group or organization? You can learn some things from the About pages, but you might find out more by doing a Google search to see what other people are saying. This can help you to understand the context and purpose of the source.
Lateral reading: Instead of reading an article straight through, or scanning up and down the same website, you might need to jump around a bit. Open multiple tabs in your browser to follow links found within the source and do supplemental searches on names, organizations or topics you find. These additional perspectives will help you to evaluate the original article, and can end up saving you time.
Things to remember:
Wineburg, Sam and McGrew, Sarah. Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information (October 6, 2017). Stanford History Education Group Working Paper No. 2017-A1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3048994
Credible sources are generally understood to be accurate and reliable sources of information, free from unfair bias. See the evaluation criteria below for help with determining credibility.
Inclination, leaning, prejudice, predisposition
A biased source is one in which the creator has a view of the issue at hand that had an effect on how they created the source. From the synonyms above, you can see that this can be to a small or large degree. Everyone has biases, and someone with a bias can still write a worthwhile source, but it is up to you to consider how much of a bias is present. Be aware of the biases inherent when an organization has a legislative agenda or is trying to sell something.
Peer review is a process scholarly articles go through before they are published. Scholarly articles are sent to other experts in the field (peers) to ensure that they contain high-quality, original research important to the field. This is a measure of quality control other types of literature don't go through.
If you can't tell whether or not a journal is peer-reviewed, check Ulrichsweb.
Use the criteria below to help you evaluate a source. As you do, remember:
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