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News/Media Literacy and Fact-Checking: Fact-Checking

How to Use this Guide

This site is intended to help you understand and address mis- and disinformation and improve your own information consumption habits.This Fact-Checking page provides easy-to-use steps to determine the quality and validity of information online. And stay up-to-date on the latest research and expert opinions on our Additional Readings page. You can also explore these pages using our guide menu to the left (or above on a mobile device).

Overview of Fact-Checking Skills

Online Verification Skills with Mike Caulfield

Fact-Checking as a Means of Combating Inaccurate or Misleading News

Want to make sure your information is accurate? Take these steps.

Click on the links for more information about each step.

  • Check your emotions
    • Why? Because you’re already likely to check things you know are important to get right, and you’re predisposed to analyze things that put you an intellectual frame of mind. But things that make you angry or overjoyed, well… our record as humans are not good with these things.
  • Check for previous work
  • Go "upstream" to the source
    • Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally
    • Read laterally.Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
    • Evaluate the source by thinking about the:
      • Process: How was the information created and are there mechanisms in place for correcting errors?
      • Expertise: Why is the author qualified to write on this topic? Is s/he an expert? Does the author had professional knowledge of the topic? Are other experts being interviewed for the source?
      • Aim: What is the publication, author, or media source attempting to accomplish? In other words, what incentive do they have to get things right?
  • Circle back
    • If you get lost, or hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.
  • Take action if needed

(from Caulfield's Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers)

Reusing this Guide

Please feel free to share this guide with others.  If you are a librarian or teacher, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes.  Much of the content in this guide was adapted from the Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers textbook by Mike Caulfield of Washington State University Vancouver.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please note that permission is not given for any part of this LibGuide to be used for any for-profit endeavors, including publication.

Online Fact-Checking Lessons

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