When evaluating results from an Internet search, a "lateral reading" approach is recommended. Lateral reading is searching for information about a source while you are reading it, to evaluate the source's currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.
To read laterally, open new browser tabs, where you will search for information regarding the website or claims you are evaluating. Read the information you find to discover what trusted and reliable sources are saying about the website or its claims. [Explanation derived from PVCC LibGuide.] Here is more information regarding evaluation criteria:
- Currency: When was the information published or posted? Is the date the information was revised or updated listed? Do you spot any out-of-date information? Are the links on the site functional?
- Relevance: Does the information relate directly to your topic or answer your question? Who is the indended audience of the information? Is the information written at an appropriate level?
- Authority: Who is the author, publisher, source, or sponsor of the information? Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations listed? Is the author qualified to provide information on this topic?
- Accuracy: Where does the information come from? It is evidence-based? Has it been reviewed by a professional board? Can you verify the information from other sources? Does the language seem unbiased?
- Purpose: What is the purpose of the information? Are the author's intentions clear? Is this information factual, or is it opinion or propaganda? Is it objective and impartial?
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Last updated 1/25/21, E.F.