Skip to Main Content

ENG 110 - Schaaf: Home

Resources and Assistance for your Final Research Paper

Evaluating Information Sources Critically

Before using any piece of information as a source, it should be evaluated critically. The library guide below is a very helpful resource for evaluating what you find online. It also explains how to use Lateral Reading to help you evaluate information sources right while you're reading them.

Welcome to your Library Guide

This guide has been created for Luke Schaaf's ENG110 classes.

Here you will find guidance, links, and explanations about using library resources to find articles, books, websites, and more to support your Research Paper assignment. The tabs are organized based on the type of resources you are looking for.

Remember to try to collect at least a dozen sources (the minimum is 9).

You will need:

  • 3+ print-based sources (books for now, since we don't have print journals and our bound journals are in the basement and not available yet)
  • 3+ online academic journal articles (also called "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed")
  • 3+ other credible sources, whether print or online (including newspapers, magazines, reputable websites, etc.)

Lateral Reading

Lateral reading is the act of evaluating the credibility of a source by comparing it with other sources.

This allows you to:

  • Verify evidence
  • Contextualize information
  • Find potential weaknesses

“In brief, lateral reading (as opposed to vertical reading) is the act of verifying what you’re reading as you’re reading it,” writes Terry Heick in “This Is The Future And Reading Is Different Than You Remember” on TeachThought.com, a website featuring innovations in education. The lateral reading concept and the term itself developed from research conducted by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), led by Sam Wineburg, founder and executive director of SHEG.

Lateral reading helps you determine an author’s credibility, intent and biases by searching for articles on the same topic by other writers (to see how they are covering it) and for other articles by the author you’re checking on. That’s what professional fact-checkers do.

Questions you’ll want to ask include these:

  • Who funds or sponsors the site where the original piece was published? What do other authoritative sources have to say about that site?
  • When you do a search on the topic of the original piece, are the initial results from fact-checking organizations?
  • Have questions been raised about other articles the author has written?
  • Does what you’re finding elsewhere contradict the original piece?
  • Are credible news outlets reporting on (or perhaps more important, not reporting on) what you’re reading?

Source: News Literacy Project

Technology & Access Services Librarian

Profile Photo
Scott Pfitzinger
Contact:
Technology & Access Services Librarian
Assistant Professor
128 Murphy Library
Office Hours: Usu. M-F 7:30 - 4:00
spfitzinger@uwlax.edu
608-785-8943
Website