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Evaluating Resources

Simple Strategies for Complex Thinking

The Internet allows people to create and to share information in ways that once seemed possible only in science fiction. At the same time that we can benefit from the open nature of the Internet, it's sometimes hard to decide what online information to trust and to use.

We'll offer some simple, evidence-based strategies for evaluating the credibility of online sources, as well as reading critically. More specifically, we’ll teach you about “lateral reading,” the practice of doing a quick initial evaluation of a website by spending little time on the website and more time reading what others say about the source or related issue. Lateral reading is used commonly by fact checkers.

These strategies will help you look beyond less important surface features of a web source (for example, how professional it looks or if it's a .org), and think more carefully about who is behind the source, what their purpose is, and how trustworthy and credible they are. 

On this page we’ll introduce you to several lateral reading strategies and concepts. On the guide’s other pages (see the navigation menu) we’ll share additional source evaluation strategies and learning resources.

This guide draws largely on research from the Stanford History Education Group and on teaching materials from Mike Caulfield's SIFT approach and his Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.

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