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Selecting & Analyzing Resources

When selecting information to access and use in research, you will need to use your skills in media literacy to find and select the best resources.  Here are some tips to help you be media literate.

 

A Source is A Source unless of Course...

One of the primary responsibilities of the library is to provide students with reliable, acceptable, and useful resources to support students in their classes.  The on-site library as well as the online library are just chock full of useful resources.  However, there are times when students have to leave the library and venture out into the Wild World Web to find the information they need.  This page is here to help you make sure that the information found is as reliable, acceptable, and useful.  

 

The CRAAP Test

There are different ways of determining how credible a resource is, and it is necessary that you take the time to do this as it is easier for creators to build deceptive sites.  Resources now exist that allow anyone to create a professional-looking website.   Also, in the past, it was possible to use a site's domain to predict reliability.   However now, anyone can purchase most domains be it .com, .net, or .org (The .edu domain should be safe as the domain can only be used by post-secondary institutions that are institutionally accredited since 10/29/2001.).
 
One method of checking a resource's reliability is called the CRAAP* test.  You apply the CRAAP test to a resource by asking certain questions about the resource:
  • Is it Current? (When was it published?  Does it reference up-to-date information?),
  • Is it Relevant? (Does it relate to your topic),
  • Is it Authoritative? (Is the author qualified to write about the topic?),
  • Is it Accurate (Is the information accurate and unbiased?),
  • What is its Purpose (Why was this resource written?). 
 
If a resource doesn't pass each of these questions, then don't use it.

 

Lateral Reading

If you find a resource that you can't be completely certain of, a lateral reading of your resource will help you determine its reliability.   By lateral reading, you are going outside of your source to gauge if the resource is any good.   If you find information on a website, you would research to see if the website is a good source.  If the author of the information is mentioned, you would research the author to see if he or she has acceptable credentials.   The News Literacy Project** says you will want to answer these questions in your lateral reading:

  • Who funds or sponsors the site where the original piece was published? What do other authoritative sources have to say about that site?

  • When you do a search on the topic of the original piece, are the initial results from fact-checking organizations?

  • Have questions been raised about other articles the author has written?

  • Does what you’re finding elsewhere contradict the original piece?

  • Are credible news outlets reporting on (or perhaps more importantly, not reporting on) what you’re reading?

If you find support from other trustworthy resources, then you should not have a problem using the original resource.  

Helpful Videos

Below are some helpful videos on evaluating resources, including the proper way to use Wikipedia for school research.

* The CRAAP test was developed by Sara Blakeslee.

**"Expand your view with lateral reading." News Literacy Project, newslit.org/tips-tools/expand-your-view-with-lateral-reading/.

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