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Research Guides

WRIT 134: A Nation of Immigrants?

Prof. Battat-Spring 2024

Lateral Reading

To investigate a source using lateral reading literally means reading "to the side". Instead of staying on the page and reading everything on it carefully (reading vertically), you will open multiple tabs in your browser to search for information to provide context about the site itself, organizations, individual names, or topics you encounter.

General tips:

  • Scan search results and skim the snippets beneath the links before clicking
  • Use CTRL-F (on a PC) or Command-F (Mac) to search within a page for a name, group, word, or phrase
  • Put a phrase (such as an organization's name) in quotation marks to search for those words in that order, e.g "Refugees International"

Investigating a Source with Wikipedia

Open a new tab and enter the [organization's name / website] wikipedia into the search box. What do other sources say about the organization's reputation, funding, and bias?

Why Wikipedia? Wikipedia has guidelines for determining the reliability of publications that are designed to help "people with diametrically opposed positions argue in rational ways [...] using common criteria" (Caulfield, 2017). Not all Wikipedia articles are of equal quality. More established (longer and/or older) articles are more likely to be of higher quality, as they are more likely to have been reviewed and edited by multiple editors.

Reviewing an article's references can help you evaluate the article's quality. Wikipedia often will let you know if there are potential problems with an article's sources by including messages like this:
This article needs additional citations for verification. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Google Advanced Operators

Another alternative is to use Google's advanced operators to find references to an organization that aren't coming from the organization's own site. (It may still find social media pages or related sites run by the organization.)

Use -site:[domain] to eliminate search results from the domain you specify.

For example: "American Immigration Council"