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Source Evaluation Techniques: 5 Ws

5 W's

Who created the information? Affiliations, qualifications/credentials, reputation, contact info, etc. Who published it? Who paid for it? Does the creator or publisher have a bias or a point-of-view that might affect the information?

What is the evidence? Do the claims make sense? Can claims be fact-checked? Are stories, hearsay, or innuendo used as “proof?” Do the facts given logically lead to the conclusions made?

When was the article published? When was it revised or updated? Is timeliness important for the topic or not?

Where is it published – popular magazine, academic journal, blog, news, website, etc.? If it’s a website, what kind? Newspapers, magazines, and some journals web publish. Was the information edited, reviewed, or refereed? By whom? Where did the author get their information? Are they citing sources? If so, are those sources credible? 

Why was the information created? How is it meant to affect its audience? Why are they telling me this? To inform, teach, sell, entertain, persuade, or something else?

Who or what is missing that might change the interpretation or understanding of the information?

Resources

Elmwood, V. (2020). The journalistic approach: Evaluating web sources in an age of mass disinformation. Communications in Information Literacy14(2), 269–286. https://proxy01.nwacc.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=llf&AN=147725332&site=ehost-live

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