A useful tool to get started with checking the quality of the information you are relying on for your assignments. Modified from the original by Meriam Library, CSU and adapted using SIFT lateral reading strategies and includes some terms and questions from the Rauru Whakarare Evaluation Framework.
When was the information published or posted?
Are links functional?
Does it help solve your problem?
What is the value of the information to the profession?
Have you checked the authority or mana of the author / organisation in another source? Watch a 2 minute video with tips to investigate a source.
Is the information from an official source e.g. .govt.nz; .ac.nz; .health.nz; .parliament.nz; .cri.nz etc?
If it's an article in a journal, is the journal peer reviewed?
Can you verify their information in another source?
Have you checked the whakapapa or background of the information?
Watch a 3 minute video with tips to find the original source.
Watch a 3 minute video with tips to look for trusted work.
Have you considered the aronga or objectivity of the information?
Why was the source created and who was it created for?
Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
Is there evidence of bias or agenda? Watch a 6 minute video on identifying bias and agenda
Do you know the difference between misinformation and disinformation?
An example of evaluating a video from Waikato University by applying the CRAAP test to Plandemic using lateral reading techniques
This is a kaupapa Māori approach for evaluating information sources developed by Angela Feekery and Carla Jeffrey at Massey University. The framework embodies the connectedness of Whakapapa (background), Orokohanga (origins), Mana (authority), Māramatanga (content) and Aronga (lens) of information we are using. The Rauru Whakarare pattern was chosen as it represents interconnectedness. Download the checklist for the Rauru Whakarare Evaluation Framework here.
An overview of the key concepts of Rauru Whakarare Framework.
|Whakapapa||Whakapapa identifies and connects the various layers identified in this framework you should consider when evaluating sources.|
|Orokohanga||Considers where the information has come from and who the authors/publishers of the source are.|
|Mana||Refers to status and standing within a community or organisation. This is vital when considering whether to use a particular source. It connects strongly to the author’s expertise and reputation.|
|Māramatanga||Indicates enlightenment which means that the source should positively impact the wider community of understanding and add value to the existing conversations within a particular topic area.|
|Aronga||Aronga identifies the focus and purpose of the information. It can be influenced by the author/organisation/publisher’s viewpoints and considers whether they are well known for doing this kind of research or work.|
More information on Rauru Whakarare includes:
Mike Caulfield, digital literacy expert and creator of SIFT shares how to apply SIFT to evaluate web sources using lateral reading techniques .
1.The S in SIFT [You Tube: 3 minutes] - Stop and learn how fact checkers outperformed professional historians in a Stanford experiement.
3. The F in SIFT [You Tube: 3 minutes] - Find the original source
4. The T in SIFT [You Tube 3 minutes] - Trace to trusted sources
For more about lateral reading to evaluate information see the articles below by McGrew, Ortega, Breakstone & Wineburg.
Take a free online course to apply SIFT techniques - No login required. CC- BY-4.0
Fact-checking from Buzzfeed on You Tube - Experts in the field of fake news debunking
Fact-checking from Ctrl-F on You Tube
If your source makes factual claims, you want to be able to check their facts with other sources. So, for example if a study claims to show that vaccinations cause autism, it is useful to see if other studies have found the same thing.
Some guidelines for assessing a source’s accuracy:
|Source||How to tell?|
|Books||Does this book use references? If so, you can check them. If not, try searching online for any facts that you intend to use to support your arguments.|
|Journals||If the journal is peer-reviewed, some fact checking should already have been done.|
|Online Video||You need to search for other trustworthy sources to check these facts - one reason that videos make uncommon academic sources. This video on applying the CRAAP test to Plandemic includes a good example of fact checking for accuracy.|
You'll need to search for other reputable sources to check these facts. Mike Caulfield gives an example of finding better coverage of information when checking a webpage.
|Statistics||Try searching, but other sources may not exist. Mike Caulfield gives an example of tracing a statistic to its source.|
With authority we want to know that the author knows a lot about the subject area. A famous heart surgeon may know a lot about the ins and outs of the heart but may not know a lot on how to design a house. When looking for information we want to be able to show that the source has been written by an expert in that area.
Some guidelines for assessing a source’s authority:
|Source||How to tell?|
|Books||Most academic authors will give their credentials in the "about the author" section. You can search online for them too.|
|Journals||Most academic journals will check the authority for you and give author qualifications and where they work.|
|Online Video||You need to identify the speaker/author and search for them. This video on applying the CRAAP test to Plandemic includes a good example of fact-checking for authority.|
|Web page||You need to identify the author and search for them. If they are credible they should not be hard to find. This video on SIFT method includes a good example of fact-checking a website for authority.|
|Statistics||These depend on who produced the statistics. Can the organization be trusted? This video on SIFT method includes a good example of tracing a statistical claim.|
You need to decide if the source that you have found is current.
How recent is recent enough?
If you are studying ancient Egypt, a source decades old may be fine. If you are studying nanotechnology, a year old may be too old.
Your tutor should be able to help with this, so when you are given an assignment, ask them about how old sources can be.
How can you tell how old sources are?
|Source||How to tell?|
|Books||Look for the most recent copyright date on the back of the title page.|
|Journals||Look for the year on the cover or first pages, or search Google scholar for the article's citation.|
|Online Video||Sometimes appears in the credits. If it's original content, you might use the upload date.|
|Web page||It can be hard to tell. Look for a "last updated" statement which is often at the bottom of the page.|
It is also vital to think about why a source was created, because authors always have a reason why they put time and effort into creating the item.
Suitable purposes for study include: spreading new information; education; summarising evidence or knowledge. Unsuitable purposes typically include persuasion, sales, entertainment and propaganda. Consider whether the source presents facts (can they be checked?) opinion (informed or uninformed?) or misinformation
|Acceptable for purpose||How to tell?|
|Scholarship||Some sources, like journals, are to share information between academics.|
|Summarize knowledge||Sources like text books and encyclopedias are there to give a summary of current knowledge.|
|News||News sources (which can include some social media posts) try to give information about current events but remember that some news sources are biased. A good website to check if a major news source has bias is https://mediabiasfactcheck.com. Other fact-checking websites include Snopes and Politifact|
|Unacceptable for purpose||How to tell?|
|Persuasion and propaganda||Sources like political or advocacy groups, want to persuade the reader of an opinion. These are not usually suitable.|
|Selling||The purpose of some sources is to promote a business or sell something. Since these sources have a clear conflict of interest, they are not usually suitable for study.|
|Entertainment||Sources that are meant to divert and entertain include most social media and recreational websites. These sources usually lack the academic rigor to be suitable for study.|
When you are looking through the sources that you have found, you need to consider where and how you could use them:
If it does not help solve your problem or inform an argument that you are making, then it is probably a waste of your time!
So, look at your assignment/task, marking guide etc. and decide:
Where will this source earn me marks? How would I use it?
Does it help solve my problem?
Some guidelines for assessing a source's relevance:
|Source||How to tell?|
|Books||Look at the Table of Contents. If there is not at least a chapter there on your subject, it could be a waste of time.|
|Journals||Look at the abstract. Does it discuss your question? Will it be worth reading the whole article?|
|Online Video||You will have to tell from the title and the description if it is worth watching.|
|Web page||You can scan the page or look at the sections that it has to see if it discusses your issue.|
|Statistics||Look at column headers and the level of detail. Do the statistics inform your research.|