• Evaluating Sources: Start Here

    Steer clear of bad information with the 5Ws!

    There is lots of information out there nowadays, but how do we know what is good information versus bad? Let's make sure that those sources you either use for your assignments or share with others online are reliable and credible.

    There are many sources out there claiming to the real information when, really, they aren't. What we try to teach you here is how to be media literate, how to evaluate things you see and find online and through other media sources. In today's society, it is very easy to create and share information, and it is also very easy to share potentially misleading information likes fake news. The point of this page is to make you aware of this topic and help spread accurate information rather than inaccurate information.

    What is Critical Thinking?

    It's important when evaluating sources to question and explore whether or not they are a good fit for your research. Critical thinking skills will allow you to view new information with a skeptical, but not conspiratorial mindset. While critical thinking can look different for different fields, try asking yourself a few of these questions when trying to decide whether or not to use a source:

    -Do I understand what this resource is telling me?

    -Is the information credible (sources cited, properly formatted, comes from a trustworthy source, etc)?

    -Is there any resource that may be better to use for my research?

    -Will this resource be appropriate for my audience, professor's expectations, etc.?

    -Have I explored other options?

    There is a lot of information out there. And sometimes you may come across a source that is 100% factually accurate, but some of these questions may rule out its use. For instance, we may consult an encyclopedia in our research. Encyclopedias are great places to find factual information. However, if you consult a children's encyclopedia, your professor may not appreciate you using that source even if the information you give is technically 'correct'. (On the other hand, if you're an education major using this source may be beneficial). 

    Using critical thinking means we have put thought and effort into choosing our research and sources. It may take a little longer, but developing these skills now will help you in the long run as an employee and citizen.

    (*DISCLAIMER: Even when we use critical thinking, we can still be wrong sometimes. Information can be misleading or change even if we see nothing visibly incorrect with the source or its information. Remember that if you have any questions, you can ask your professor, a trusted source like the Library or the Writing Center, and be prepared to be flexible with your research. A good researcher is able to understand that their plans may change as they are presented with new information.)

    The Laws of Information Literacy

    Did you know Information Literacy is a human right? See what aspects make up Information Literacy laws below:

    Graphic breaking down information literacy

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