AR 347-01: History of Photography

This guide is designed to help you locate resources for topics discussed in AR 347, History of Photography.

Fact Checking in Four Steps (Caulfield)

Use these tactics to help you decide whether information is true:

  • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research conducted.
  • Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Since most web content is not original, you should backtrack to the original source of the assertion to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim (book, article, photo, etc.), read what trusted sources say about it. Look for consensus amongst these sources.
  • Circle back: If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.

In general, you can try the above moves in sequence. If you find success at any stage, your work might be done.

When you encounter a claim you want to check, your first move might be to check sites like Politifact, Snopes, or even Wikipedia to see if they have researched the claim (Check for previous work). You can also do a quick search like [claim] + "hoax."

If you can’t find previous work on the claim, start by trying to trace the claim to the source. If the claim is about research, try to find the journal in which it appeared. If the claim is about an event, try to find the news publication in which it was originally reported (Go upstream).

If you find that the source of the claim is not reliable, read across reliable sources to assess further. (Read laterally).

And if at any point you fail–if the source you find is not trustworthy, complex questions emerge, or the claim turns out to have multiple sub-claims–then you circle back, and start a new process. Rewrite the claim. Try a new search of fact-checking sites, or find an alternate source (Circle back).

For more information on fact-checking strategies see Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.

Adapted from Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Michael A. Caulfield and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Here's a quick video on lateral reading from MediaWise:

Fact-Checking Images & Social Media

Five quick ways to double-check online information:

  1. If a story is too good to be true, it probably is. False and misleading stories spread like wildfire because lies can be more appealing than the truth.
  2. Use reverse image search to verify pictures. Real photographs that have not been edited at all can get reshared to fit a new narrative and spread misinformation. There are several reverse image search tools including Google Reverse Image Search. To begin, go to the Google Image Search webpage, click the camera icon, and either paste in the URL for an onine image, upload an image from your hard drive, or drag an image from another window. Visit the Tips and Tools page of the library research guide on Misinformation for more image search tools.
  3. Use thumbnail images to verify videos. You can take several thumbnail images from any video and use reverse image search to check whether it's been posted online before. (Use Amnesty International's extraction tool.)
  4. Not all research is created equal. Always check with official sources (Visit the Reliable Sources page of the library research guide on Misinformation for some suggestions.) Just because something has a chart or a table doesn't mean it's true.
  5. Use geolocation to double-check places. Good observation skills and oniine searching can quickly check the location of a photo or video. Read this article in PCWorld for more information, and use the Google Maps Geolocation explainer to get started.

Source: First Draft News

Evaluating Websites

The Internet provides access to a wide variety of sources, created by various individuals and groups. You should always evaluate the credibility of a website before using it as a source for your research. Some criteria you should keep in mind when evaluating a site:



Does the author provide email or contact information?

What are their credentials?


Why was the page created?

Who is the audience?

Does it support scholarly research?


Was it updated recently?

Do the links work?

Is the information outdated?


Is the information biased?

Is there a conflict of interest?

Are the facts accurate?


What type of domain? .gov (government) .edu (educational)

.org (non-profit) .com (is it a reputable author or company?)