In today’s world, it’s getting more difficult for the general public to evaluate articles and other information on the Internet. It’s easy for anyone to publish something online and call it fact, even if it is full of errors or inaccuracies, which is particularly harmful when false information is spread to voters and taxpayers. The popularity of fake news has even the smartest people thinking about trustworthy sources and the accuracy of information found online. Academic publishers can help fight the prevalence of fake news by posting information that is vetted and high-quality. Here are seven things readers should look for when evaluating an academic publication.
1. Scrutinize the Site Address
One of the first things a reader should check to determine if the information is accurate is the URL of the publishing website. In many cases, information that comes from .edu, .org, or.gov tend to be more accurate. Additionally, well-known publications and newspapers, such as Bentham Science, may have information that may be less biased.
2. Research the Author
The next thing to look at when evaluating a news article is the author. One red flag to a potential fake news source is when there is no author’s name accompanying the information. Generally, a well-sourced article will have a byline and an author’s bio. Check out the information about the person behind the information. It’s easy to do a quick search for this person to see what other articles have been published and details about credentials and the subject matter.
3. Check the Article’s Sources
If you want to be sure the article you’re reading is factual and well sourced, it makes the most sense to check out the sources used by the author. Academic publications typically have all sources listed in the body of the article or afterward. The reader should be able to go to each source and verify the facts used in the article. If statistics are cited and not linked back to a reputable source, that may be a red flag.
4. Spot Any Grammatical Errors
Readers should also be on the lookout for grammatical errors and problems in sentence structure with misleading articles. An academic publication that has gone through all of the necessary steps for research, editing, and finally publishing, should not have grammatical mistakes or sentence structure problems. Articles that aren’t as reputable may have been written quickly and could have spelling mistakes, punctuation problems, or other grammatical issues. This shows that the article did not go through the editing process and may not be accurate.
5. Consider the Website
It’s also smart to check out the publishing website and read additional articles to see the overall tone. If the website is full of misleading statements and absolutes, the individual article may not be as accurate. Sites that publish extreme views may only offer articles that are biased or misleading. More reputable sites offer a variety of viewpoints to help the reader make up his or her own mind.
6. Understand the Site’s Industry Reputation
Next, do research on the publishing site’s reputation within the field. Some articles are published on niche websites that cater to a specific industry, such as Bentham science publishers. The average person who is doing a search on the internet may be misled by information from an unfamiliar niche site.
7. Check the Publishing Date
The last thing you should check out when reviewing an article for accuracy is the date. Some articles online are current, but others may be old news. Most official articles published online have a publishing date. An article that is a decade old may not be intentionally misleading, but the information may not have been updated to reflect current trends or statistics.
Being a savvy reader for today’s online news arena requires a bit more critical thinking than news reading from the past. It’s vital to be skeptical and to consider these important tips whenever evaluating a source of information.