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IDS 101: Nation of Immigrants: Evaluating Resources

How to Determine Bias in Magazines, Journals, & Newspapers

Look in Magazines for Libraries for short, descriptive articles about many major magazines, newspapers, and journals.

For Example: 

"The Nation is a strongly leftist publication that includes original in-depth reporting as well as significant editorial and opinion content."

"National Review...is generally considered to be the premier mainstream conservative publication."

"The Monthly Review has been publishing articles from a hard-left perspective for over 60 years."

"The New American is a hard-right magazine (usually further to the right than the National Review), published by the John Birch Society in one form or another since the 1950s."


Go to the magazine's homepage and look for the "About Us" section.

How to Evaluate Resources (Print & Electronic)

1. Reason

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is scope or purpose specifically stated? Do the contents match the stated scope?
  • Is the point of view stated? Is there a particular agenda that is being pushed?
  • Does it have an established reputation? If so, consider what kind of reputation it represents?
  • What is the publisher's or website host's motivation for providing the information? (Advertising for profit, part of agency's mission, educational purposes, reporting original research, publicizing a particular agenda)
  • What information can be gained about a website's domain code of the host address?
.com = commercial source
.gov = government agency
.org = non-profit organization
.net = consortium (profit or non-profit)
.edu = educational institution


2. Readability

Is the text well written? Is it written in the language of the discipline or for a general audience?
Does the source have features, such as charts, illustrations, or a bibliography, that will be helpful?
Is the information needed to cite the material easily found?
Is there a lot of information available or is the information it provides limited?
Does the document provide references to other more detailed resources (either print or online)? Are links to other Web resources labeled clearly?


3. Reliability

Is objectivity a factor?
Who is the author?
Does the author provide credentials demonstrating expertise or knowledge of the subject?
Is the publisher reputable?
Does the resource contain grammatical, spelling or typographical errors?
Is there any contact information provided?
Are facts, such as statistics, accurate, current, and verifiable? Are sources of information cited?
What sources or methods did the author use to gather the information?
Is the method of obtaining data accurate and dependable?
Is it refereed/peer-reviewed or did just a staff editor review it? Peer-review means a scholar or researcher in the related field has reviewed it before publication.
How frequently is the resource updated?
Are the links to other resources current? And is the page finished or still under construction?


4. References

Does the author list where they get their information from (e.g. footnotes, bibliography, or reference list)
Are there many sources listed?
Are the author's sources reliable?
Can you follow their listed sources to obtain the original information sources?