Here are some criteria to keep in mind when choosing and using both print and online sources:
Unsure about a source? I'm happy to help!
Mike Caulfield (Director of Blended & Networked Learning at Washington State University) developed this short list of things to do when looking at an information source, drawing on the habits of professional fact checkers.
These short videos by Mike Caulfield provide a good introduction to the S.I.F.T. method. (These were made before he coined the acronym, so the order is slightly different, but the basic ideas are the same.)
This video illustrates the importance of evaluating sources through something called “lateral reading” (when evaluating a website, looking at what others have said about that page, rather than relying primarily on what the site says about itself).
This video introduces the technique of looking up a source in Wikipedia as a first step towards learning more about a site or organization.
For more detailed instructions for investigating a source you find online, go to Investigating the Source on this guide.
You may often find a claim or piece of information online that isn't coming directly from the individual or organization who made it. Here are some tips on to going "upstream" to find the source.
Professional fact checkers seek out coverage of an issue from reliable sources.
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?
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" -site:americanimmigrationcouncil.org
Many databases allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles. Learn about peer review in this short video (from the University of Kansas Libraries).