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IS 101: Introductory Research Tips and Review:

Research tips for introduction AND review.

WHAT is it - WHY should you believe it - WHY is it right for you now

PATS: Acronym for Evaluation indicators
Purpose Is the intent to INFORM or PERSUADE?
Authority Scholar? Journalist? Experienced in the topic? Whatever it is, what does it mean in the context of history? Of a country? Of a time period?
Timeliness Depends on your topic whether currency is important
Scope Do you want something that covers the topic broadly, specifically, or in-depth? (e.g., respectively, encyclopedias, news or scholarly articles, and books)

What about Fake News?

"Fake News" is a phrase that has only been part of our collective consciousness since the summer of 2016--and yet, sources reporting information incorrectly have existed as long as the printed word.

FAKE NEWS refers to stories that contain clearly and demonstrably false information and are created (or shared) by entities who don't value accuracy and don't care about their long-term reputation.

We are all susceptible to fake news. None of us approach it as blank slates--instead, what we already believe strongly influences how we'll receive the fake news. You are unlikely to find fake news sources in the library databases, and you may naturally avoid them when finding other sources for school projects. However, when looking up information on your own time, the risk is greater.

This is why it is especially important to use PATS to evaluate the sources you use throughout your life--not just for homework, but the information you consume socially, informally, and "just for fun."

*The wording of the text here is based on the ACRL-Choice webinar (sponsored by Proquest), “The (Unintentional) Rebranding of a Longstanding Information Literacy Problem as “Fake News," streamed 8/23/17, by Dr. Adam Blackwell.* - See below to view in full (1st 30 minutes are speaker, last 30 are questions from audience) -

Short Introduction to PATS

Where to Find the Credibility Information for Sources


  • Database = on article page or link to a bio or description
  • Website = search with quotes like "New York Times" and look for  "About" or "Publishing Standards" or "Qualifications"
  • Wikipedia page = beware of any suspiciously positive or negative information



  • Book Itself = Front/back flap or pages
  • Website = of Author or Publisher
  • Wikipedia = beware suspicious negative or positive spin



  • "About" page = OR "Credentials," "Who We Are, "Mission, "Purpose"
  • Impossible to find = what are they hiding? Why? Why would you use it, then?
  • Click as many times into the information as you need to truly understand who is responsible for the information--sometimes it may be 5 consecutive clicks in or more



  • Web search = quotes around full name, e.g. "Junot Diaz." Interviews can work. Add inurl:edu if scholarly.
  • Impossible to find = Are they dead? Are they hiding?