Be critical of the digital world
Books, journal articles, newspapers and TV programmes are usually reliable sources of information because they have been through an editing process where facts are checked and claims verified. Resources you find in the library or on your reading list are also a very safe place to start your research as they have been selected by your lecturers and librarians.
However, in the real world you can't just rely on traditional printed sources - you will need to use digital sources like websites, online video and social media. To make sure that the ones you choose are good enough quality for your academic work you will need skills in crtically evaluating information. These skills are closely connected to media literacy, critical reading and fact checking.
With so much information available online - how do you know what to use?
This video starts to explain how you can know what to trust.
And this video explains some Criteria for evaluating information (Falmouth login required).
- When was it written?
- Who wrote it? What are their credentials?
- Is it accurate? Can you verify it elsewhere?
- Is it peer reviewed?
- Is it objective, or has it been written to persuade?
- Is it a popular or scholarly source?
- Can you make use of the information and put it into context?
Fake News and misinformation are not new, but they can spread much quicker with social media. You can fact check the news yourself before you share it, These guides and the video will show you how.
First Draft News provide lots of videos and tools to help you verify what you find on Instagram, Facebook, Google, Youtube and more.
Can you spot fake news? Try this quiz from the BBC.
Find out about the BBC's Reality Check
There are also several fact checking websites including:
Some social media sites are introducing their own fact checking criteria, but there is an argument that it's dangerous to outsource our critical thinking to computers. If you have the skills to check facts and evaluate sources yourself you won't need to rely on others to do it for you.