Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

(11 reviews)


Mike Caulfield, Washington State University Vancouver

Pub Date: 2017

ISBN 13:

Publisher: Independent

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Reviewed by Britney Mann, Senior Academic Advisor I and Instructor, Oklahoma State University, on 5/22/2018.

The book has a nice table of contents that clearly outlines the topics included. It covers a wide range of useful techniques and tips for web … read more



Reviewed by Luis Occena, Associate Professor, University of Missouri, on 5/22/2018.

The book covers a wide variety of topics on fact checking on the web, and some related subjects. Not being an expert in this field, difficult to … read more



Reviewed by Amy Barlow, Assistant Professor and Reference Librarian, Rhode Island College , on 3/28/2018.

In academic research, it is not uncommon for students to ask educators to assist them with source evaluation. This is a critical skill that students … read more



Reviewed by Michelle Walker, Liaison Librarian, University of Sunderland, on 2/2/2018.

The aim of the book is to support students with fact checking online sources in a practical and engaging way and I think it achieves this aim … read more



Reviewed by Emily Rimland, Associate Librarian, Information Literacy Librarian and Learning Technologies Coordinator, Penn State, on 2/2/2018.

It should be noted that web literacy here is meant as a specific subset of broader concepts such as information literacy or digital literacy. The … read more



Reviewed by Nina Battistini, MLIS, PhD, Librarian, Alexandria Technical & Community College, on 2/2/2018.

This book convincingly argues that fact-checking on the web is a seldom taught but necessary skill. A variety of web literacy techniques are … read more



Reviewed by Hailley Fargo, Student Engagement Librarian, Penn State University, on 2/2/2018.

The author opens this text by saying this is a practical guide to aims to help readers/students get closer to the truth (pg. 5). The text, overall, … read more



Reviewed by Juliana Boner, Academic Librarian, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Cambridge, on 2/2/2018.

This text covers the area of web literacy appropriately. It is comprehensive in terms of searching the web. Topics such as scholarly journals are … read more



Reviewed by Lauren Goode, Digital Services Librarian, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary, on 6/21/2017.

This text comprehensive in it's coverage of how to evaluate the vast reaches of the internet, at least in the scope of popular websites, social … read more



Reviewed by Daniel Ayala, Instructor, Chemeketa Community College, on 6/21/2017.

This text assumes that the student has a familiarity with the Internet and basic search engine queries. I have found that today’s undergraduates have … read more



Reviewed by Danisha Baker-Whitaker, MLIS, PhD Student, North Carolina State University, on 6/21/2017.

This text fulfills its promise to provide students with engaging, relevant, and practical methods to verify information shared on the internet. It … read more


Table of Contents

Part I. Four Strategies and a Habit
1. Why This Book? 
2. Four Strategies 
3. Building a Fact-Checking Habit by Checking Your Emotions
Part II. Look for Previous Work
4. How to Use Previous Work 
5. Fact-checking Sites 
6. Wikipedia 
Part III. Go Upstream
7. Go Upstream to Find the Source 
8. Identifying Sponsored Content
9. Activity: Spot Sponsored Content 
10. Understanding Syndication 
11. Tracking the Source of Viral Content 
12. Tracking the Source of Viral Photos 
13. Using Google Reverse Image Search 
14. Filtering by Time and Place to Find the Original
15. Activity: Trace Viral Photos Upstream 
Part IV. Read Laterally
16. What "Reading Laterally" Means 
17. Evaluating a Website or Publication's Authority
18. Basic Techniques: Domain Searches, WHOIS 
19. Activity: Evaluate a Site 
20. Stupid Journal Tricks 
21. Finding a Journal's Impact Factor 
22. Using Google Scholar to Check Author Expertise
23. How to Think About Research 
24. Finding High Quality Secondary Sources 
25. Choosing Your Experts First 
26. Evaluating News Sources 
27. National Newspapers of Record 
28. Activity: Expert or Crank? 
29. Activity: Find Top Authorities for a Subject 
Part V. Field Guide
30. Verifying Twitter Identity 
31. Activity: Verify a Twitter Account 
32. Using the Wayback Machine to Check for Page Changes
33. Finding Out When a Page Was Published Using Google
34. Using Google Books to Track Down Quotes 
35. Searching TV Transcripts with the Internet Archive
36. Using Buzzsumo To Find Highly Viral Stories 
Part VI. Field Guide (Unfinished Articles)
37. Unfinished Articles 
38. Finding Out Who Owns a Server 
39. Finding Out When a Site Was Launched 
40. Avoiding Confirmation Bias In Searches 
41. Finding the Best Possible Opposition 
42. Advanced Wikipedia 
43. Promoted Tweets

About the Book

The web gives us many such strategies and tactics and tools, which, properly used, can get students closer to the truth of a statement or image within seconds. For some reason we have decided not to teach students these specific techniques. As many people have noted, the web is both the largest propaganda machine ever created and the most amazing fact-checking tool ever invented. But if we haven’t taught our students those capabilities is it any surprise that propaganda is winning?

This is an unabashedly practical guide for the student fact-checker.  It supplements generic information literacy with the specific web-based techniques that can get you closer to the truth on the web more quickly.

About the Contributors


Mike Caulfield is currently the director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University Vancouver, and the editor of the New Horizons column for the OpenCourseWare Consortium.

Before that he was employed by Keene State College as an instructional designer,  and by MIT as director of community outreach for the OpenCourseWare Consortium.