Mike Caulfield (author of Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers) recommends taking a fast and efficient approach to fact-checking news sources similar to the strategies used by professional fact-checkers. It is a four-step process:
Google it or check other fact-checker websites (see below) to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
Most web content is not original, see if you can get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
What are other people saying about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth may be found in the "network."
4. Circle back
If you get lost, or 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.
**Good Habit: Check Your Emotions
When you feel strong emotion — happiness, anger, pride, vindication — and that emotion pushes you to share a “fact” with others, STOP. Above all, it’s these things that you must fact-check.
FactCheck.org also provides advice on how to systematically put your skepticism to use. IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institution) created a handy infographic to help remember the strategies in several languages:
Image source: ifla.org