When we practiced evaluating a source, we learned that you'll often need to go beyond a website's "About Us" page to learn more about it. In a 2017 study from Stanford University, researchers found that both college students and history professors had trouble identifying misinformation online, but fact-checkers were able to easily handle the task. This is because fact-checkers use some quick, effective strategies to evaluate unfamiliar websites.
This technique is called "lateral reading," and it's a great way to put your sources in context. Watch the Lateral Reading Video below to see this strategy in action.
Supiano, Becky. "Students Fall for Misinformation Online. Is Teaching Them to Read Like Fact Checkers the Solution?" The Chronicle of Higher Education, 25 Apr. 2019.
Wineburg, Sam, and Sarah McGrew. "Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information." Stanford History Education Group Working Paper No. 2017-A1, 6 Oct. 2017.
Wineburg, Sam, and Sarah McGrew. "Why Students Can't Google Their Way to the Truth." Education Week, 1 Nov. 2016.
Keep this list in mind when you encounter new and unfamiliar sources. But remember, a checklist doesn't determine whether a source is "good" or "bad" – you do! The list just provides you with some useful questions to ask yourself when you critically evaluate a source.