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COMM111 Hughes

Develop your topic, brainstorm search terms, and find credible resources - all while Staying Home and Staying Healthy!

Crowd-sourced definition of "credible sources"

On your Informative Speech assignment, Kerrie expects you to use “3 pieces of documented supporting materials” that “have credibility and come from a valid source.” Let’s build a shared understanding of what that means.

A credible source is written by a knowledgeable, identifiable author(s); cites its sources of information; is up-to-date; is transparent in its purpose; is available in full text.

Characteristics of a credible source include:

  • Author or publisher is associated with an academic entity, research institution, other respected & known entities.
    • .gov, .edu which are regulated websites.
    • org is also good, and .com, but always check the About Us, Purpose pages.
  • Groups / organizations can be authors (e.g., Oregon Health Authority).
  • Avoid anonymous authors. Transparent authorship is important.
  • Author / sponsor of the information is transparent about their purpose in sharing information.
  • Available in full text (no abstracts-only articles).
  • Peer-reviewed - other experts and credentialed / experienced figures have reviewed and validated the work.
  • Cite sources: Include sources they used, and you can get an idea of how they arrived at their conclusion (and you can fact check).
    • Give credit to people
    • Sharing examples.
    • Multiple websites have the same information.
  • Informational, not opinionated or full of bias. Look for cited sources.
  • Objective, considering all sides of a situation.
  • Up-to-date information, if that matters for your topic.
  • Relevant to your topic (e.g., an article on cigarettes wouldn't be relevant to effects of vaping).
  • Available in full text (no abstracts-only articles).

How to fact-check like a pro

Sick and tired of seeing misinformation? Never know who or what to trust? Can't figure out if what you've heard is true? Feel Duped? Want better tools to sort truth from fiction? Here's a quick guide to sorting out facts, weighing information and being knowledgeable online and off

  • Check credentials. Is the author specialized in the field that the article is concerned with? Does s/he currently work in that field? Check LinkedIn or do a quick Google search to see if the author can speak about he subject with authority and accuracy.
  • Read the “About Us” section. Does the resource have one? It may be on a tab at the top of the page, or a link at the bottom of the page, but all reputable websites will have some type of About Us section and will provide a  way for you to conatct them.
  • Look for bias. Does the article seem to lean toward a particular point of view? Does it link to sites, files, or images that seem to skew left or right? Biased articles may not be giving you the whole story.
  • Check the dates.  Like eggs and milk, information can have an expiration date. In many cases, use the most up-to-date information you can find.
  • Check out sources. When an article cites sources, it's good to check them out. Sometimes, official-sounding associations are really biased think tanks or represent only a fringe view of a large group of people. If you can't find sources, read as much about the topic as you can to get a feel for what's already out there and decide for your self if the article is accurate or not.
  • CRAP Test graphic.
    Use the CRAP Test
    - Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose
  • Interrogate URLs. We see quite a bit of domain manipulation these days. For instance, what looks like an .edu domain, followed by .co or “lo” is likely a fake or deceptive site.  If you are you seeing a slightly variant version of a well-known URL, do a little investigating.
  • Who owns the website posting the information? You can find out at either whois.domaintools.com or at whois.icann.org. Both of these websites allow you to perform a WHOIS search. Whenever someone registers a website address, they are required to enter their contact information. When you get to your WHOIS search, enter in the domain (the first part of the website URL). This step can be used to collect all the information when you question a source, or the informations purpose.
  • Suspect the sensational. When you see something posted that looks sensational, it is even more important to be skeptical. Exaggerated and provocative headlines with excessive use of capital letters or emotional language are serious red flags.
  • Judge hard. If what you're reading seems too good to be true, or too weird, or too reactionary, it probably is.

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