Evaluating Information: Who to believe?

Use What Where or Not at All

News databases

Fact checking at The Conversation

Fact checking aims to determine the factual accuracy of news media reports, and other pieces of communication such as political speeches. Fact checking will use authentic information sources to verify or refute the claims made. 

How we do fact checks at The Conversation

Cartoon image of male character making a claim and a female character gesturing to the claim.
The Conversation, CC BY-ND

There’s now a vast network of factcheck units around the world, operating in myriad different languages. However, none have a process quite like ours at The Conversation.

The ConversationSunanda Creagh, Editor, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, Deputy Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

NOTE The Conversation no longer has a distinct editorial product called 'FactCheck', however the rigorous methods outlined in the video and article (above) are incorporated into the standard process for many of the articles published by The Conversation.

Fact Check

Read more about Fact Check a collaboration between RMIT and the ABC.

Beware: The spread of fake news, hoaxes, and outright lies on social media

What is a hoax? According to Wikipedia, ‘a hoax is a falsehood deliberately fabricated to masquerade as the truth’. According to the Cambridge Dictionary it is a 'a plan to deceive someone, such as telling the police there is a bomb somewhere when there is not one, or a trick'.

You can 'fact-check' online hoaxes through Hoaxslayer.  Hoax-Slayer debunks email and social media hoaxes, thwarts Internet scammers, combats spam, and educates web users about email, social media, and Internet security issues.

Evaluating news sources - who do you believe and why?

Image of a laptop screen with a mock up newspaper article with the headline 'Fake News'Image shows some newspapers as well as newspaper websites on a smartphone and tabletThere are multiple news sources available in a variety of formats but are they all reliable?

Learn about fact-checking and how to investigate claims or news media reports.

 Is it real or is it fake news?  

How to spot fake news

Inforgraphic with tips for spotting fake news. Text of infographic is reproduced in this section.

What is fake news?

"Fake news is made-up stuff, masterfully manipulated to look like credible journalistic reports that are easily spread online to large audiences willing to believe the fictions and spread the word." (Drobnic Holan 2016).

This poster has been created by IFLA (CC BY 4.0) and is based on the fact check questions suggested by the Fact Check organisation. 

Using the checklist questions

Read a news item from the links provided below or select one from your subject area. 

Drug testing of welfare recipients

Climate change myths and reality

Now use each of the Fake News checks from the poster (right) to test out the news report.

1. Where is the article from? is it a reliable source.

2. Are there other sources for this news report. Compare what you find.

3. Who is the author. Are they qualified to write or speak about this issue?

4. Check out other links which may be embedded in the article.

5. Check for satire or joke content.

6. Do your own beliefs or  emotions affect the way you read the article? Challenge yourself to read from different perspectives. 

7. Fact check through a fact checking site, library databases and librarians. 

Research as 'facts.' What might happen when research findings are found to be false?

You may have heard about an article published in the Lancet in 1998 which reported that vaccinations could cause autism. This research has since been retracted but is an interesting example of scientific research being presented as 'facts' which may actually be incorrect. 

Read here about the impact of the vaccination report and other  pieces of research about vaccination which have been questioned and refuted. 

Checking fake news

This video gives you some handy tips for spotting fake news. 

How to find out more about news sources

How to assess the claim

Here are a few useful resources which will help you determine the veracity of claims:

5 ways to spot misinformation

Empower yourself to recognise 'fake news' by taking a look at 5 useful techniques for spotting misinformation online in this recent article from The Conversation:

Pearson, M (2020, January 18). There’s no such thing as ‘alternative facts’. 5 ways to spot misinformation and stop sharing it online. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/theres-no-such-thing-as-alternative-facts-5-ways-to-spot-misinformation-and-stop-sharing-it-online-152894

5 ways to spot if someone is trying to mislead you when it comes to science

Empower yourself to spot if someone is trying to misrepresent science or sow seeds of doubt in scientific inquiry by taking a look at these 5 useful techniques from The Conversation:

Vally, H (2021, March 9). 5 ways to spot if someone is trying to mislead you when it comes to science. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/5-ways-to-spot-if-someone-is-trying-to-mislead-you-when-it-comes-to-science-138814