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This information is for:
- Anyone that uses the Internet as a source of information
||This guide contains an easy set of steps and a tool kit for verifying online sources. Each skill section contains a video and supporting materials to master that skill. There are no checklists or acronyms. Just authentic skills for real people. This is based on research that comes out of Stanford University (see below).
- When you want facts and only facts
- When you're writing anything
- When you want to fact check a viral story
(After a while, you'll do it all the time, FYI.)
- Anywhere you have an internet connection and access the Internet on any device
||So you can invest your time on stories, information, and facts that are true and valid, and prevent you from being fooled. The Internet contains information from myriad sources. Many are credible and contain information that has already been verified by the author/editor of the source/organization. On the other hand, there are many websites specifically produced to spread false information containing unverified, therefore not credible information. Some of those fake sites look quite legit, and this guide will help you discern fact from fiction.
- By thinking critically, reading laterally, and using the skills contained in this guide, you'll be on your way to smarter searching.
Keep This in Mind...
There are certain documents that you don't have to verify. Books and some magazines have already been vetted. Journal articles you find on a database also do not have to be verified. They have already been verified by an editor and peers in the field. You must become a fact checker when dealing with the Internet.
Research Behind this Guide
Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information
The Internet has democratized access to information but in so doing has opened the floodgates to misinformation, fake news, and rank propaganda masquerading as dispassionate analysis. To investigate how people determine the credibility of digital information, we sampled 45 individuals: 10 Ph.D. historians, 10 professional fact checkers, and 25 Stanford University undergraduates. We observed them as they evaluated live websites and searched for information on social and political issues. Historians and students often fell victim to easily manipulated features of websites, such as official-looking logos and domain names. They read vertically, staying within a website to evaluate its reliability. In contrast, fact checkers read laterally, leaving a site after a quick scan and opening up new browser tabs in order to judge the credibility of the original site. Compared to the other groups, fact checkers arrived at more warranted conclusions in a fraction of the time. We contrast insights gleaned from the fact checkers’ practices with common approaches to teaching web credibility.
Keywords: Digital Literacy, Media Literacy, Credibility, Expertise
Citation in MLA-8
Wineburg, Sam, and Sarah McGrew. Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information. Stanford University, 2017, pp. 1–56.