“I swear to tell the post-truth, the alternative truth and nothing like the truth”.

by Tim Abbott Flickr

We live in strange times. The new US President has made very clear that Truth is a flexible commodity and that News will be faked.

To underline this, we find that post-truth is the Oxford Dictionaries 2016 Word of the Year.  Oh for the carefree days of last year’s emoji.

This, of course, is not News to people specialising in the production of information. Or to those, such as researchers and Librarians, for whom providing and using the very best information is fundamental to their professional ethics.  Bad information, from people with vested interests and careless attitudes, is as old as the hills.

School, University and Professional Libraries give students access to a balance of trusted information both in hard copy and through academic online resources. Libraries also teach Information Literacy. But, taking personally the responsibility to evaluate all sources of information has never been more important and this  may be the key lesson we can learn from these interesting times.  Don’t leave it to anyone else.

Whether you read, repeat or repost news in 2017; when you study, research or write using something you’ve read elsewhere, here are things to ask yourself first:

   

Source Evaluation Rule of Thumb
Is this information…
 Credible?
Type of Resource?
(Commercial,  educational, personal, governmental)
Is it promoting something?
(What?)
Accurate?
Useful?
Can you find the relevant information easily? Is there enough detail?
Audience?
(Who is site aimed at? School children, students, experts, hobbyists, voters? )
 Reliable?
Type of language used?
(simplistic, persuasive, factual, humorous, discursive, informative, professional)
Bias?
(Does the author assume a specific point of view? Is the information balanced?)
 Supported?
 Who is responsible?
(Author name or organisation.  What is their reputation or authority?)
Are there contact details for verification?
 Up to date?
What is the date of original publication or when was it last updated.

About gunther.y

I am the Chartered Librarian of Nottingham High School.

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