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Introduction to Research: Evaluating Sources



Need help evaluating your sources? Use the acronym, ACT UP, to determine whether or not a resource is right for you.


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Did you know that you have a filter bubble around you right now? That every time you do a search on Google, it tailors the results based on your previous search history? Did you know that your search results will look different if you use Google on campus as opposed to using it at a cafe in Beverly? It's because Google is making certain assumptions about you based on your IP address. While we all like customized information there is a real danger of being so trapped inside your filter bubble that you never see the other side of a story.  In order to be better informed, we need to know what each side is saying about an issue and not fall for confirmation bias (reading only sources that already fall in line with our current views). Here are two free resources to help you do just that!


Generally we say, the higher the cited by number is, the more impactful the research is. It means that, in this case, over 3300 articles referenced this particular paper. Considering it was published in 1998, that's a good amount of cited bys as it has had time to be read and thoroughly studied.

But what if I told you that this article was retracted in 2010 for fraudulent research? And that even though it was retracted, it has already been cited over 3300 times and is now part of public discourse. That this particular scholarly article was based on shoddy research and literally started the anti-vax movement?

Who you cite matters! We have a responsibility to thoroughly evaluate our sources.



  1. When you open up a news article in your browser, open a second, empty tab.  Use that second window to look up claims, author credentials and organizations that you come across in the article.
  2. Fake news spans across all kinds of media - printed and online articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, radio shows, even still images. 
  3. For images, put them into Google images and search. Verify that what you are seeing corresponds to the event in question.
  4.  Check the account history of the source. Two red flags are: the number of posts and how long the account has been active. If it claims to be a well known source(like CNN or CBS) and only has a few posts in its history that is a clue. If it's a well known source and the account has only been active a short time that is another red flag.
  5. Think before you share.


Another avenue is to find scholarly blogs. Oftentimes professors and researchers are talking about their work on blog sites. Just like with any other resource, you will need to evaluate the blog to see if it is credible or not. Here is a website to help you do that


There are several avenues worth exploring to get at research that is not represented in our databases due to privilege in publishing. Open Access Journals can be a really great resource.  Open Access (OA) Publishing is free and allows access to anyone. This means research is not hidden behind and expensive pay wall. Keep in mind that not every Open Access Journal is on the up and up. There are scams and shoddy research/reviews that get published in some OA journals. But there are ways for you to evaluate those OA journals