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Hot Topics: Evaluate Bias

Evaluate BiasIntroduction

Bias isn't necessarily a bad thing. A resource can be biased but still contain useful and credible information. The problem lies in those resources that that are not upfront about their political or social agenda, are disrespectful of their opposition, and that make arguments and statements without backing them up with facts or research.

This page will help you evaluate for bias in your sources and be thoughtful about those you finally choose to use in your assignment.

Questions to Think About

  • Whose perspective does this source represent? 
    • Facets to consider: race & ethnicity, political affiliation & agenda, gender & sexuality, religion, socioeconomic status, corporate vs. nonprofit, geography, etc.
  • Who are the other stakeholders in this issue? How are they represented in the source, if at all?
    • You'll want to find sources from various stakeholders to be able to compare and get a larger picture.
  • What do others have to say about the source?
    • Even checking Wikipedia, or one of the Evaluating Bias in Media sites below, can help you determine if a website or organization has a particular bent.
  • What is the evidence being used to support the argument?

 

Tip! If in doubt about whether a source is too biased, you don't need to use it just because you found it. Find one that is more even-handed instead.

 

Tip! Always look for different perspectives on an issue to get a more complete picture of the issue. That being said, the weight of evidence sometimes strengthens one "side" over another, and thus having balanced coverage of an issue might not mean giving equal time/space to each different argument. Giving equal time to two arguments can be misleading if one argument actually has a stronger case.

 

It's important to look for a variety of viewpoints and draw your own conclusions! 


Evaluating Bias in Media

Everyone has biases and no publication can be entirely neutral, though some are more biased than others. These resources can help you detect and evaluate for bias in different news media sources.


Want more help with evaluating sources?

Check out these other pages in our Research Guides, or ask a librarian!

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