Lesson 8: Conducting Online Research – Source Types and Validity


You will identify ways to determine a source’s validity and generate a list of potential sources related to environmental protection and health.

Time to Complete

40 to 50 minutes


  1. Recall the news articles you read in the second lesson. How did you know that these articles were truthful and accurate? Write your answer in the Notes tool.
  2. Today you will be developing the skills necessary to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources by focusing on how to distinguish between “real” and “fake” news articles.

Let’s Get Started

  1. To review the difference between “real” and “fake” news articles, read the following articles.
  1. Contact a partner via video call, phone, or email to discuss which one you believe is fake and why. Take notes on your discussion in the Notes tool, listing all the ways you can tell if an article is fake. If working independently, discuss with someone in your home.
  2. There are certain characteristics of “fake” articles that you should watch out for. Watch Factcheck.org’s How to Spot Fake News
  1. Factcheck.org offers a good approach to take when considering a news article’s validity. Read this article, which offers a list of strategies for assessing an article. Summarize these strategies in your Notes tool, making sure to highlight each of the following:
  • Consider the source
  • Read beyond the headline
  • Check the author
  • What’s the support?
  • Check the date
  • Is this some kind of joke?
  • Check your biases
  • Consult the experts
  1. There are other approaches to determining the validity of sources, and this approach is not exclusive to News Articles. Watch John Spencer’s Five C’s of Critical Consuming Video. Summarize the strategies in your Notes, focusing on each of the following:
  • Context
  • Credibility
  • Construction
  • Corroboration
  • Compare
  1. Compare and contrast the Factcheck.org approach and John Spencer’s approach. Discuss the following questions with your partner before writing the answers in the document below. Upload the document when you have finished.

Let’s Get to Work

  1. Review each of the articles introduced in the second lesson.
  1. Assess the validity and bias of each article using one of the methods above (either Factcheck.org or John Spencer’s approach) with your partner or someone in your home.
  2. Use the Notes tool to rank the articles from “most true” to “most fake/biased”.

Let’s Wrap Up

Why did you list the articles in that particular order? Which did you think was the most unbiased and accurate? Which did you think was the most biased and/or inaccurate? Answer these questions in your Notes tool.

Be sure to upload all of your completed PDFs before moving on to your next lesson.