Skip to Main Content

GB 270: Serving 21st Century Populations within the Health Professions: But Is It Good?

Is it Reliable?

Finding a "good" news source can be hard! This page will help you determine whether a news source is useful and reliable.

Try it for yourself:

Checking your news resource

  • First thing's first: do you recognize your news site? Do a quick search on Wikipedia or Google for it, to better understand what the site is and what others have to say about it.
Google Web Search
  • Next, let's look at the article itself. Does it have links to other sources? This is often how online journalists cite their work. 
    • If you're seeing links to scholarly articles, that's a good sign! The journalist has been thorough and is providing you with scholarly information to back up their claims. 
    • Are there no links at all to other sources? That might not be a problem. Do you see experts being quoted, such as local doctors or people involved with the issue?  Do a quick Google search to see who those experts are. 
    • No experts being quoted? No links? Not a good sign. You can find something better! 
  • Make sure your article isn't an opinion piece. Always check for headings like "Opinion", "Editorials", "Our Voices",  "Perspectives", etc.
  • Last but not least, give the author of the article a quick Google search. Who are they? Are they an expert in the field, such as a doctor, a local health official, or a researcher? A health or medical journalist? A local journalist discussing a local issue? 
    • If not, find an article written by an expert. 
Google Web Search

Still can't decide? Try these methods:

The SIFT Method

The SIFT method is a great, quick tool to help to help you sift through information you find online (and it takes longer to explain than to actually use.) 

There's even a whole (free) eBook on it: Web Literacy for Student Factcheckers

The SIFT Method developed by Mike Caulfield (Washington State University)

  1. Stop
    1. Take a breath.
    2. Do you recognize the website?
    3. What was your purpose in getting to this webpage? 
  2. Investigate the Source
    1. Where’s the content from? Webpage, webpage’s other coverage, author, author’s affiliation, etc.
    2. Is the caption misleading?
  3. Find Better Coverage
    1. Can you find a more trusted source for the same information?
    2. Is there a consensus for the information provided?
  4. Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media to the Original Context
    1. Can you trace back the information to its original source?
    2. Who’s research/reporting is this article written on?

Evaluating Sources

These handouts give you guidance on how to evaluate both scholarly and popular sources.

Research review: news articles are considered popular sources, because they're designed to be readable for everyone. 

You can also view this handout as a flow-chart (same information, but in a fun flow-chart form):

And remember: you can always ask a librarian for help