Invention - recognise source bias and quality

Sometimes it is obvious that a source is not good. SOmetimes it is not.

Checking academic articles


High quality sources to look for

Academic articles can also be low quality.

Carefully peer-reviewed articles/books are usually found on:

Low quality sources to avoid

The above are only suggestions.

Bias and Quality practice task

What is Bias?

Here are five sources (journal, newspaper)

Bias Quality
Unbiased = 5 High Quality = A
Maybe a bit biased = 3 Medium Quality = B
Totally Biased = 1 Low Quality = C


Griffiths, P. (2010). Lack of rigour in defending Fairtrade: a reply to Alastair Smith. Economic Affairs, 30(2), 45-49. Retrieved from

Smith, A. (2008). Fair Trade, Diversification and Structural Change: Towards a broader theoretical framework of analysis. Oxford Development Studies 37(4), 457–478. Retrieved from

Carimentrand, A., & Ballet, J. (2010). When Fair Trade increases unfairness: The case of quinoa from Bolivia. Retrieved from

Booth, P. (2009, February 20). Don’t bully the faithful into buying Fairtrade. The Catholic Herald. Retrieved from

Hamel, I. (2006, August 3). Fairtrade Firm Accused of Foul Play. Swiss Info. Retrieved from 23/12/2009

Satire and April Fools: getting "onioned"

When you do not read critically enough, sometimes you even believe things that are written to be funny.

  • For example, some people shared this article with their friends thinking it was real: (link)
  • Even real newspaper sometimes unthinkingly reprint articles that were meant as jokes:

Your turn

Of these articles, some are jokes and some are real. Can you tell the difference? How?

A: (link)

B: (link)

C: (link)

D: (link)

E: (link)

F: (link)

F: (link)

G: (link)

SolutionL: Checking the source

Some sources are usually reliable. Some are usually not.

  • Is it a joke site?
  • Is it a type of source known for being unrelieable (e.g. a tabloid newspaper)
  • Is it likely to be very biased?

However, even reliable sources sometimes print things that are not true (either deliberately on April Fools, or by accident), so...

Solution: Triangulate

Check AT LEAST TWO other DIFFERENT sources, to see if it is also reported there.

  • If it is about a country, read the papers from other countries
  • If it is political, read papers biased to more than one side
  • If it is a new science article, check for replication or similar research. Many new findings are not reliable until the experiment has been repeated a few times. Wait, or report carefully