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Checking for Accuracy
When you are quoting data or information in your work you must be confident that the information is accurate. You need to ask:
- Is the information reliable and error-free?
- Is there an editor who verifies and/or checks the information?
- Anyone can publish anything on the web!
- Unlike traditional print resources, many web resources will not have editors or fact-checkers.
- Currently, no web standards exist to ensure accuracy.
Indicators that peer-reviewed journal articles from databases like Academic OneFile, EBSCO, JSTOR, and ScienceDirect will be accurate:
- Written by college and university scholars - professors, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows.
- Published in scholarly journals that each have there own criteria for accepting articles for publication.
- Include in-text citations and references so the information can be verified.
When researching, think like a journalist: check your facts! You can use these websites to help you evaluate whether information you have found on the Internet is valid and reliable.
The site’s tagline is “real-time rumor tracker.” For example, on April 1, 2015, it checked whether a man was wanted in England for slapping people who sneezed in public (true) and a claim that doctors had confirmed the first death due to genetically modified food (false). The site is part of a research project of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University that focuses on how unverified information and rumor are reported in the media.
A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, the site is a “nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” While its focus is on politics, that topic is taken broadly and encompasses a lot of Web content.
This U.K.-based site covers information on the economy, health, crime and the law, immigration and education. “Search results offer users general background information, as well as details on the sort of data available in the area and links to statistics from official bodies.”
The Journalist's Resource
This site's searchable database contains top academic and governmental research, with complex statistics translated into clear data points and the terminology of academic specialists paraphrased into more accessible language, without sacrificing academic rigor or meaning. The 'Studies' section provides links to reliable, timely research in the categories of environment, economics, society, government, politics and international. Each study is accompanied by a brief overview summarizing its findings, teaching notes and links to other relevant material. Based at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.