How to check if a source is reputable
Why do I have to check if my source is reputable?
Just like you need to check the expiration date on food before you eat it, you need to check that your informaiton is reputable before you consume it.
We live in a time where access to information is high, and the creation of information is rapid. That is a great thing! But it also means that we have information coming at us from all directions, all the time. Unfortunately, not all the information available to us is reputable, true, accurate, well researched, confirmed, valid, believable, honest, useful, etc.
In your personal and academic life, it is extremely important that you are checking the information you obtain to make sure it is good, honest, well researched information before you use, share, or believe it. It is important to make sure you are aware when the information is factual, versus when it is opinion, or even propaganda or clickbait that may be intended to decieve you.
Lucikly, it is not difficult or time consuming to check your sources. It should only take 1-3 minutes per source.
How to check if a database source is reputable
- Databases are a bit easier to check if reputable, because the articles in databases go through more careful screening and publishing criteria than free web sources.
- It is still a good idea to do a quick google search for the name of the author or publisher of the source just to be safe.
- You can simply run the name through google and look for information on the source's reputation. You might include the word "reputation" or "reliable" to your search. You can also scan the wikipedia page to learn more about it. Look for red flags such as the words "scam!," "fraud!," "unreliable!," "junk science," etc. If the source is known to have a good reputation, or a bad reputation, you will see that within the first couple results on google.
How to check if a free web source is reputable
Free web sources (anything you get through the open web/google/search engines,etc) is more tricky. Since information on the free web does not have to go through any screening or publishing criteria before it is put on the internet, it is extremely important that YOU check the source for reliability.
When checking a news source/article for reliability, you might try using this F.A.C.T. Method. When searching regular websites (not news sites/articles) you can still use the F.A.C.T. Method, just skip the first step "F."
- It is really pretty easy to check if a source is reputable. Just do a quick a search on the author, publisher, or name of website providing the information. Make sure there are no red flags or a lot of articles debunking these sources.
- Also, ALWAYS make sure that you are able to confirm the information in more than one place. If you find a piece of info from one source, but cannot find ANY other sources/websites/authors/publishers talking about, or claiming the same thing. That is a big red flag. Good, well researched information is always peer reviewed, meaning that other authorities double and triple check the information. If information is good and reliable, you should always be able to find corroboration from other sources agreeing with the information.
- Also check to make sure the source clearly states where they got their information. Good, reliable articles usually include a works cited section where they list their sources.