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HR 405 Research Guide

This guide will support students in completing the Individual Paper: Critical Analysis assignment.

Evaluate Popular, Online Resources


A recent Pew Research study found that the majority of US adults would like some form of help in finding trustworthy information (Horrigan, 2017). In a rapidly changing online environment, it is important that we regularly update our information literacy skills. 

By the end of this guide, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate online content using web-native skills
  • Apply the 'Four Moves and a Habit' when consuming online content
  • Examine online content by reading laterally

In a 2016 study by the Stanford History Education Group, researchers found that a large number of the students and professors they surveyed struggled with determining the reliability of online content. This is, in large part, due to a lack of education around using web native skills to evaluate and fact-check information online. The following YouTube playlist from CTRL-F covers the results of this experiment and provides pointers for how to successfully evaluate online content like a professional fact-checker.

The Four Moves and a Habit

Evaluating online information takes a set of skills that are native to online environments. One technique that CityU teaches is the The Four Moves and a Habit. Developed by a Washington State University librarian, the Four Moves teaches students how to use domain knowledge and web native skills to more efficiently navigate online information. The Four Moves are:

  1. Check for Previous Fact-Checking Work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
  2. Read Upstream: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  3. Read Laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  4. Circle Back: If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.

Read more about this technique in the below infographic.

infographic detailing the Four Move and a Habit

By practicing these skills, you can become adept at evaluating online information, not unlike the fact-checkers mentioned in the above video. This technique for evaluating information is taught across multiple courses at CityU. If you have any questions about how to evaluate content using the Four Moves, contact a librarian. 

Navigating Digital Information Crash Course [YouTube Video Playlist]

Crash Course presents a class on Navigating Digital Information

Interested in learning more about evaluating online content? The librarians at CityU highly recommend this video series from Crash Course, which highlights many of the skills and dispositions we teach in our own classes. 

Course Overview

"We've partnered with MediaWise, The Poynter Institute, and The Stanford History Education Group to teach a course in hands-on skills to evaluate the information you read online. The internet is full of information, a lot of it notably wrong. We're here to arm you with the skills to separate the good stuff from the inaccurate stuff, and browse the internet with confidence."

Watch below or click through to YouTube to see the full list of videos.

References and Further Reading