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Tutorial: Evaluating Online Sources through Lateral Reading (Part 1/2)

About This Module

Title: Evaluating Online Sources through Lateral Reading: An Introduction

Audience: Rowan students, faculty, and staff interested in strengthening their fact-checking and online source evaluation skills

Purpose: Developing new strategies for evaluating online sources and improving one’s ability to investigate source credibility in order to recognize credible sources

Learning outcomes:

  • Be familiar with the SIFT and “Four Moves” approaches to evaluating online sources.
  • Recognize the importance of pausing when you have a strong emotional reaction to an information source in order to analyze sources more critically.
  • Apply the SIFT and “Four Moves” approaches to completing an initial evaluation of a web source’s credibility.

Prerequisites: none

Suggested time: 30-40 minutes

Suggestions for proceeding with module: To protect your device from malware, do not click on links that look suspicious, and do not download files that you do not recognize!

Suggested search engine: Google


About the Authors

Andrea Baer is the History and Political Science Librarian at Rowan University Libraries. She has been an academic librarian for 8 years. Prior to becoming a librarian Andrea taught literature, languages, and writing in various educational settings, including higher education. Her research and writing focuses on information literacy and reflective teaching practice.

Dan Kipnis is the Life Sciences Librarian at Rowan University Libraries. He has worked as an academic librarian for 19 years and has published on a variety of topics including digital archives and information literacy.


Creative Commons License
This work was created by Andrea Baer and Dan Kipnis and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Next: Evaluating Online Sources: Part 1 Introduction

More Information for Instructors

Dear Instructor,
Thank you for your interest in the online tutorial “Evaluating Online Sources through Lateral Reading.”  Below is some additional information that may be useful for classes completing it. 

Collection of Participant Responses 

We, the tutorial creators (Andrea and Dan), are collecting participants’ (de-identified) responses to the tutorial activities in order to assess their effectiveness. This research has been approved by Rowan University’s IRB Office - Protocol 2020001108. Any individual can complete the tutorial, regardless of whether they choose to participate in the study. At the beginning of the first activity each tutorial respondent is asked if they agree to have their de-identified responses included in the study analysis and in possible research about the tutorial. The PIs also clarify that if they choose not to participate in the study, they can still complete the tutorial and their responses will not be included in the analysis.  

Tutorial Structure

This tutorial has two parts:

  • Part 1: This an introduction to lateral reading. It includes a pre-activity, time for participants to practice lateral reading, and an evaluation exercise. Participants need to complete this exercise in order to move on Part 2.
  • Part 2: Once participants have submitted their evaluation exercise, they receive information on how to access Part 2. In Part 2 they receive feedback on their evaluation exercise and do a Post-Activity Reflection.  We'll also wrap up with final points to remember.

Important: Randomized Assigned Number Needed to Complete All Activities

Please stress to your students this point: when participants complete the first activity (the pre-activity), they will be assigned a unique random number. They should write down or store this number somewhere until they have finished the entire tutorial. They will need the number in order to access and complete the other tutorial activities. There is no mechanism in place for retrieving this number. If a participant misplaces it, they will need to restart all of the activities.  

Proof of Tutorial Completion

If you would like for your students to show proof of tutorial completion, they will receive a message of completion at the very end of the tutorial that they can save and share with you. We’ve included instructions at the end of the last activity about how they can save this proof of completion.

We Welcome Your Feedback

We’d appreciate any feedback you or your students have about the tutorial and your experiences with it. Please let us know if you have any questions, and thanks again for your interest!

Best regards,
Andrea and Dan

Andrea Baer, History and Political Science Librarian (baera@rowan.edu)
Dan Kipnis, Life Sciences Librarian (kipnisd@rowan.edu)