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ENG 120 & ENG 200 Research Guide

Welcome to the ENG 120 & ENG 200 Guide!

On this guide you'll find information about library resources, services, tools, and other web resources to help you write your papers, do your presentations, cite your sources, and more for your ENG120 and ENG200 courses.

Use the blue buttons on the left to navigate through the guide and find what you need. Ask a librarian ( or click on the yellow "Chat 24/7 with a Librarian" button in the upper right corner of this page or any Shapiro Library page, if you need additional assistance!

Shapes. "You can never be too certain, so question the source." Bias free zone. Shapiro Library logo.

Created by ENG120 student Fall 2018

TruthQuester! Badge

Shapiro Library has developed and introductory information literacy adventure badge for new students to learn information basics as well as how to use library resources. Students who complete this will receive and electronic badge. The link to the badge is embedded in all ENG120 Brightspace courses. We encourage instructors to incentivize students to complete the badge to best prepare them for college level research in their courses.

Information Literacy

Library research develops skills that are part of the broader skill set called "information literacy," which consists of the ability to do four key tasks:

  1. Understand when you need information, and what kind of information you need
  2. Identify and locate that information effectively and efficiently
  3. Evaluate information critically
  4. Use information legally and ethically

This guide is designed to assist students in ENG 120 or ENG 200 classes with developing information literacy skills for use in their class research papers, projects and presentations. Our other guides will continue to help foster and build on your information literacy skills.

Academic libraries use the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education to guide instructional goals and practices.

The Media Bias Chart

Ad Fontes Media created a chart where they rate the news for bias and reliability using a rigorous methodology and a politically balanced team of analysts. Their focus is on analyzing the news content of articles and shows. Ad Fontes is Latin for “to the source,” because they rate the news by looking at the source itself. You may look up a news publisher name or site in the Interactive Media Bias Chart and see the ratings for articles from that source on the chart which ranges from Most Extreme Left to Most Extreme Right across the horizontal political axis, and from Contains Inaccurate /Fabricated Info to Original Fact Reporting on the vertical reliability axis.

chart with logos of media outlets placed on axes of reliability and political leaning

S.I.F.T. information before you use it!

SIFT is a helpful acronym for a method developed by Mike Caulfield for initially (and quickly) evaluating online source credibility. S.I.F.T. stands for: Stop; Investigate; Find; and Trace. When you find a source on the web, before you use it (in an assignment, or forward it) be sure to:

1. Stop! Check the Source

  • Do you recognize the source as a trustworthy one?
  • Yes? Continue reading and use the source
  • Not sure? Proceed to Step 2.

2. Investigate the Source

  • Look up the name of the source by Googling it, or with a tool like the INTERACTIVE MEDIA BIAS CHART (see above) if it is a news source. Type in the title of a news source in the search box to the left of the chart on that webpage to see where it stands on a political bias from extreme left to extreme right, and on a factual reporting bias from original fact reporting to inaccurate/fabricated information.
  • Investigate whether the author is legitimate? An expert in the field of the article's content?
    • Google the author's name (and affiliation if provided) to make sure. (Remember the author of the article in the game was a character from the movie, "Fight Club?")
    • Even if the author is legitimate, take note of possible biases they might hold being from a particular demographic, background, etc. 
  • Explore the formatting, writing and mechanics of the article.
    • Are there typos? (like in the article misspelling "alarming" as "alarmimg" in the game?)
    • Are there run-on sentences? (like the 156 word sentence in the article?)
    • Are there a lot of flamboyant (exaggerated) adjectives? Most trustworthy articles don't contain these.

3. Find Trusted Coverage

Sometimes it is less important to know about the source and more important to assess their claim/what they are saying. This is where "lateral reading" comes in.

  • LATERAL READING - Look for multiple known credible sources and compare information across them to see whether there is agreement about the claim being made. *For example, when reading about a recent event in the news, compare what other known news outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, or National Public Radio are reporting about that same event.

4. Trace Claims, Quotes and Media back to their original context

  • Does the source include quotes from identified sources?
    • Yes?
      • Google the quotes to see if they came from legitimate experts in the field the article is about.  (Remember the article quoting the expert from Stanford University who is actually a military history professor, not a biologist or epidemiologist!)
      • Google the quote to make sure it matches what a legitimate "expert" has said or is likely to say from their experience and previous quotes.
    • No? Many fake articles do not quote specific experts, but rather mention vague government organizations or "independent" groups.
  • Does it mention a study?
    • Yes?
      • Look up the study and check if the conclusions drawn by the researchers match those in the source you are evaluating
    • No?
      • Check any claims or "facts" about events mentioned in the source with other independent sources to see if they "match up"
  • Is there a video clip?
    • Be sure to find the original video in its entirety to make sure the clip isn't taken out of context.
      • Google the content of the clip while limiting to videos in Google Advanced Search (see Google Power Searcher video below). See if there is a longer version of the video available that gives a more complete context.
      • Another strategy is to search directly in YouTube using keywords from the video. OR, if the video is from YouTube, RIGHT CLICK the video and click on Account in the menu. Then go to that account and learn more about who posted the video and whether they represent a credible source.

Information Literacy Games & Resources 


How to Spot Fake News

How To Spot Fake News by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)

  • Consider the Source:
    • Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info.
  • Check the Author:
    • Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?
  • Check the Date:
    • Reposting old news stories doesn’t mean they’re relevant to current events.
  • Check Your Biases:
    • Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgment.
  • Read Beyond:
    •  Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What’s the whole story?
  • Supporting Sources?:
    • Click on those links. Determine if the info given actually supports the story.
  • Is it a Joke?:
    • If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.
  • Ask the Experts:
    • Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site.

How To Spot Fake News Infographic that uses the text above