Use these tactics to help you decide if information is true.
In general, you can try these 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 see if sites like Politifact, or Snopes, or even Wikipedia have researched the claim (Check for previous work).
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 it appeared in. If the claim is about an event, try to find the news publication in which it was originally reported (Go upstream).
Maybe you get lucky and the source is something known to be reputable, such as the journal Science or the newspaper the New York Times. Again, if so, you can stop there. If not, you’re going to need to read laterally, finding out more about this source you’ve ended up at and asking whether it is trustworthy (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.
If you want to "play it safe," you should check with your instructor or a librarian about any website you plan to use for your paper. There is not much out there on the WWW in terms of reputable sources to use for this research project. A few that seem relatively useful and reliable are listed below: