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Evaluating Resources

Click Restraint

One important part of lateral reading is click restraint. When you practice click restraint, you don’t immediately click on the first search results. Instead you scan a search results page, looking at things like the title, source description, and featured sections, before deciding what sources to examine. This helps you to get a fuller picture of the coverage available on that source, as well as to look for sources that don’t come from the original source. 

Fact checkers exercise click restraint: they recognize that some sources may not be the most reliable ones and look for trusted coverage. Doing this will help you avoid “rabbit holes” and misleading information. Considering the results page as a whole can also give you insight into the source. For example, if many of the sources appear to be highly partisan or emotionally charged, the original source may be about a polarizing issue, or the source itself may be polarizing. 

This short video from the Stanford History Education Group illustrates the importance of click restraint and why you shouldn’t assume that the first search results are necessarily the most reliable or relevant ones. 

Video: How to Find Better Information Online: Click Restraint

 Evaluating Online Sources: A Toolkit Source: Rowan University CC-BY-NC-SA