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Evaluating Sources: Credibility & Bias

Evaluation Tools

Learning how to evaluate what you read, view, and hear is an essential skill for your academic and personal life.  

Fact Checking Websites

Untrustworthy Journals (Predatory Publishers)

Cabell's Blacklist Directory helps researchers and potential authors identify journals that are published using questionable, suspicious, or deceptive strategies.

Journals listed in this directory are designated as predatory.  Predatory publishers lie about their business practices for the purpose of pure profit; or in other words, they publish anything submitted by authors willing to pay the article processing fees.  The most common lies involve:

  • peer review practices
  • editorial board members
  • organizational affiliations
  • impact factors

Predatory publishers manufacture journal content that contaminates and undermines the trustworthiness of scholarly academic publishing.

Media Bias Tools

If you need to research a topic from differing political and social perspectives, then you need to know how to identify bias in magazines, newspapers, and websites/blogs.  These websites offer a few general guidelines. [Disclaimer: no tool offers perfection; it does not exist.]

If you are curious about the impact of your own thoughts and feelings, there are several tools to help you rate your own personal bias.

What is fake news? (...and other false news)

False news is not a new concept.  It’s just a new phrase describing an old problem that has always existed in some form or another.   It has wormed its way into the national discourse through counterfeit news outlets, bogus print publications, and social media.  False news can be broken down into five categories: (1) fake, (2) misleading, (3) highly partisan, (4) click bait, and (5) satire.  Misleading news is the most difficult to identify because it often contains a kernel of truth taken out of original context and then sensationalized.  False news is different from satire, which uses humor, sarcasm, irony, exaggeration or some other approach to make a point.  And unlike legitimate news that may contain unintentional errors made under deadline pressure or some other valid circumstance, false news reflects a deliberate attempt to deceive for the purpose of persuasion, influence, or profit.  Deliberate omissions of the complete truth, hoaxes, lies, and propaganda are often wrapped in cloaks of credibility which make them intentionally challenging to identify.  The only way to stop the spread of false and misleading news is to exercise a healthy dose of informed skepticism and follow the “when in doubt, then don’t” rule.  Don’t use information in an assignment, post it on social media, or relay it to others in any way that implies truth, if you suspect it is not completely truthful.

Portions of this content are excerpted and adapted from CQ Researcher’s -- Fact or Fiction?