Too often we are emotionally reacting to information, before checking for accuracy and authority. Our society pays a difficult price when this is shared at exponential rates through all forms of media. Fake News that has been spread has often relied on this viral distribution to keep the truth questionable.
Knowing where your information originates helps to qualify the validity of the factual data provided.
It is smart to check multiple sources to question the authority of the information, the authors previous commitments and special interests that might be influencing the outcomes.
The CARS Checklist is designed to provide some criteria for assessing the quality of a source, whether it is print or online. Few sources will meet every criterion in the list, and even those that do may not possess the highest level of quality possible. But if you learn to use the criteria in this list to critically evaluate the material you are reading, you will be much better able to separate the high-quality information from the poor quality.
Credibility: If a source is credible, it is: Trustworthy; the quality of evidence and argument is evident; the author's credentials are available; quality control is evident; it is a known or respected authority; it has organizational support.
Accuracy: If a source is accurate, it is: Up-to-date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive, and its purpose reflects intentions of completeness and accuracy.
Reasonableness: If a source is reasonable, it is: Fair, balanced, objective, and reasoned; there is no conflict of interest; there is an absence of fallacies or slanted tone.
Support: If a source is valid, it will have: Listed sources, contact information, and available corroboration its claims will be supported; documentation will be supplied.
Source Evaluation Tutor: CARS (McGraw-Hill Education). (2001). Retrieved May 18, 2017, from http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/english/allwrite3/seyler/ssite/seyler/se03/cars.mhtml
A nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.
An online touchstone of rumor research. The site's work has been described as painstaking, scholarly, and reliable, and has been lauded by the world's top folklorists.
Leading journalism fact checker and has the famous Truth-o-meter to give “pants on fire” ratings for completely misleading information.
A researcher might also look into Indeed.com or Wikipedia for more information on an author or business, but beware that false information could be provided in these places as they are not verified and controlled, as is the case with personal websites and blogs.