#GLOBALHEALTHCORNER: Is what I’m reading true? How to Determine the Reliability of Sources.

If there is anything we’ve learned from this year, it’s that in our world, now more than ever, human beings can be connected instantly at anytime with just the touch of our fingertips. In this new global age, with sources like Google within our grasps, information is no longer a hard thing to find. Within seconds, just one search can bring up millions of resources for a single topic. Unfortunately, being able to access this vast amount of information also means that one must be able to sift through what is credible and what is unreliable. One of the most challenging things that many have faced in the ongoing pandemic is determining whether a source of information can be trusted. These days, anyone with access to a computer can publish just about anything online, thus it is important to know how to evaluate and prevent the spread of false information. Here is a handy acronym that can help you easily sift through different sources and access accurate information.

Currency

The timeliness of information is crucial. When you first come across any type of source, it is important to ask the following questions:

  • How old is this source?
  • When was the information created, published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated? If so, how recently was it revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for the specified topic of interest?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance

It is important to know how the piece of information you have found is related to a topic of interest. To determine if a source of information is relevant, one should ask:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your the intended purpose)?
  • Are there other sources you can look at before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for an academic paper?

Authority

You should always be aware of wrote or produced the source of information you are accessing. To determine the source of the information, one must question:

  • Who is the creator and/or author and/or publisher and/or source and/or sponsor?
  • Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source (i.e. .com, .org, .gov)

Accuracy

No source of information is worth it if you cannot determine the reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content. To begin, evaluate the following:

  • Where is this information coming from?
  • Does it have references?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem objective and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
  • Why do you trust it?

Purpose

Lastly, one must ask the reason why the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information (e.g. to inform, teach, sell, entertain, persuade etc.)?
  • Do the authors and/or sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion and/or propaganda?
  • Is it objective or biased?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

From discussions on global events to random tips on how to change a tire, there is so much information in our world and it surrounds us at every corner. It is important that we make sure that we are only interacting with sources that are bringing us the right information and at the right time.

Together we can make an impact on the health of the nations and the generations to come.

The mission of WHEF is to increase accessibility to medications and supplies for healthcare facilities in Guatemala and Grenada. If you are interested in hearing more about the work we are doing, or in connecting with us, you can visit our website, check out our instagram or facebook, or sign up to receive our newletters. If you would like to support us in our work, please donate here.

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