Evaluating Information with the ACT UP Method
In order to be responsible cultural producers of information (as opposed to being cultural consumers), we need to think critically about the resources we are using and citing in our projects. It is no longer enough to just say a resource is peer-reviewed or scholarly. We are now aware of the institutionalized oppressions that exist in the publication and dissemination of information. By definition, ACT UP means to act in a way that is different from normal. We know that normal usually means the patriarchy and the systemic oppression of people of color and other marginalized groups' contributions to the conversation. To ACT UP, means to actively engage in dismantling oppressions and acting upwards to create a more socially just system.
Who wrote it?
- What do you know about the author(s)?
- Is the author qualified to speak on the topic?
- What are their credentials?
- Can you Google the author?
- Find a LinkedIn page?
- Anything else they wrote?
- If you're looking at a website, is there an "About Us" section of the website?
.edu, .org, .gov are sometimes more reliable than .com and .net
Be wary of domain names that have the word 'blogger' or 'wordpress' in the address as they indicate personal blogs.
Pay attention to ".com.co". This usually indicates it is a fake site pretending to be a legitimate news site of the same name.
But, remember some domain names might be country specific like .ca for Canada.
How current is this resource?
- When was this resource written?
- When was it published?
- Does this resource fit into the currency of your topic? Do you need up-to-date current information?
How accurate/true is this information?
- Does the language of the source contain words to evoke an emotional response?
- Are there typos and spelling mistakes?
- Can you verify any of the claims in other sources?
- Dig deep! Verify the claims in multiple sources.
- Here's some truth: just because you found something from a reputable site, doesn't mean the resource cannot contain shoddy research, misinformation, or false claims.
Is the information presented to sway the audience to a particular point of view?
- Resources unless otherwise stated should be impartial.
- Remember, bias is not always a bad thing as long as the source is explicit about their bias and agenda.
- Keep in mind that Google's "personalization" can bias your results. Keep filter bubbles in mind!
- Is there a conflict of interest? See if you can find out who funded the research. The funders might have a vested interest in the outcome of the research.
- What about confirmation bias? Does this affect the way you search and choose resources?
Check the privilege of the author(s).
- There is privilege in publishing whereby mostly white men have the opportunity to publish their research.
- Why is this research present in the database?
- Are they the only folks that might write or publish on this topic?
- Who is missing in this conversation?
- Critically evaluate the subject terms associated with each resource you found. How are they described?
- What are the inherent biases of the publishing industry and library classification systems?
- The more you investigate, the more power you have to dismantle systems of oppression.
The ACT UP Method was developed by Dawn Stahura at Simmons College.