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ACT UP: EVALUATING SOURCES

We need to move away from passive media consumption. You don't have to drink the koolaid.
We need to think critically about the resources we are using and citing in our projects.
Professors - we need to think critically about the resources we assign our students to read.
We all have a social responsibility to share information that is true.
This makes us informed cultural producers of information every time we repost, retweet, or share information with our friends, followers, and interweb folx.

  • To ACT UP means to act in a way that is different from normal.

  • Normal is defined as heteronormative, white, cisgendered, male and christian (just to name a few).

  • Normal means patriarchy and the systemic oppression of marginalized groups.

  • To ACT UP means to actively engage in dismantling oppressions

  • To ACT UP means pushing against dominant narratives, oppressive hierarchies of knowledge production, and academic ivory tower definitions of expertise and scholarship.

  • ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) is also a direct action advocacy group working to help those living with AIDS. While most thik of ACT UP as being active in the 1980's, the work of ACT UP is still being done today. Remember, social justice change take time. 

 

ACT UP EVALUATION METHOD

Created by Dawn Stahura (c) 2017

 
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AUTHOR

  • Who wrote the resource?

  • Google the authors. Background information matters.

  • What else did they write?

  • Are they affiliated with any associations, organizations, etc. that would be a conflict of interest?

  • Conflict of interest = bias.

  • If you can't find out who wrote the resource, walk away.

Intention is everything.

  • Why did the author write this piece?

  • Was the intent to educate, persuade, share knowledge, or sell something?

  • In other words, what motivated the author to publish this word?


For websites:

  • Look for the 'About Us' section.

  • Google the website's title/authors to see if anything has been reported as a source of fake news.

  • Can you find any information about the credentials and backgrounds of affiliated writers, editors, publishers, or domain owners? You should be able to locate this information easily on the website (you know, if they want you to find it.)

  • Is there a 'Legal' or 'Disclaimer' section?

PUSHING AGAINST PRIVILEGE

Stepping Outside Traditional Scholarship - Sources to Consider

 

USE BOOKS

Finding books on your topic is one way to circumvent academic journal gatekeeping. Since book publishing does not rely on peer review, it gives marginalized folks a chance to share new, challenging, and critical ideas, data, and arguments. It is always worth a search in the library catalog to see what is out there on your topic. Remember, scholarly articles are not the only resource worth citing.​

CITATION POLITICS

POSITIONALITY MATTERS

What and who you chose to cite is a reflection of your positionalities.*

You come to research as you and bring with you your experiences, opinions, access to information, specific skill sets, etc.

These positionalities* effect who you include in your research and who you exclude. Who YOU consider an authority on the subject matters.

Citation selecting is not passive. We make a conscious decision who to include and who to exclude in our research.

We need to discuss our intentions and why we chose to cite certain resources over others. It holds us accountable for the research we do and the creations we produce.

*'Positionality is the notion that personal values, views, and location in time and space influence how one understands the world. In this context, gender, race, class, and other aspects of identities are indicators of social and spatial positions and are not fixed, given qualities. Positions act on the knowledge a person has about things, both material and abstract. - Encyclopedia of Geography (p2258)

CITATION POLITICS

Citation politics is about reproducing sameness. If we are always citing white, male authors, we are forever drawing from a very limited set of experiences.


Women are cited less on average than research authored by men, but if a woman co-authors with a man, the paper has a higher chance of being cited.


People of color and other marginalized folx are less cited than their white colleagues even if they have more experience and authority than white researchers.


Well cited scholars have authority because they are well cited. But well cited does not mean quality especially at the expense of those less cited.

BREAKING THE CITATION CYCLE

Practice citation counting: literally count how many women, poc, and other marginalized folx are included in your references. Count how many nontraditional sources you cited. Google the authors to see who they are if you need to. Don't make assumptions about gender. Do your research.  

Push against the narrow definition of academic scholarship that is exclusive, misogynistic and racist. Just because someone's work has not been heavily cited does not mean it does not have value. Strive to towards citation politics that are feminist and anti-racist.

There are different kinds of authority. Consider the context in which you are writing and determine what kind of expert you need? For example when might a government site not be as reliable as a personal narrative?


There are more contributors to research than just the author(s). Take a critical look at the methodology section to see who contributed and who didn't.

CITED BY NUMBER

Generally we say, the higher the cited by number is, the more impactful the research is. It means that, in this case, over 3300 articles referenced this particular paper. Considering it was published in 1998, that's a good amount of cited bys as it has had time to be read and thoroughly studied.

But what if I told you that this article was retracted in 2010 for fraudulent research? And that even though it was retracted, it has already been cited over 3300 times and is now part of public discourse. That this particular scholarly article was based on shoddy research and literally started the anti-vax movement?

Who you cite matters! We have a responsibility to thoroughly evaluate our sources.

 

EVALUATING THE NEWS

 

TIPS

  1. When you open up a news article in your browser, open a second, empty tab.  Use that second window to look up claims, author credentials and organizations that you come across in the article.

  2. Fake news spans across all kinds of media - printed and online articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, radio shows, even still images. 

  3. For images, put them into Google images and search. Verify that what you are seeing corresponds to the event in question.

  4.  Check the account history of the source. Two red flags are: the number of posts and how long the account has been active. If it claims to be a well known source(like CNN or CBS) and only has a few posts in its history that is a clue. If it's a well known source and the account has only been active a short time that is another red flag.

  5. Think before you share.

BURSTING YOUR FILTER BUBBLE

 

CONFIRMATION BIAS

Did you know that you have a filter bubble around you right now? That every time you do a search on Google, it tailors the results based on your previous search history? Did you know that your search results will look different if you use Google on campus as opposed to using it at a cafe in Beverly? It's because Google is making certain assumptions about you based on your IP address. While we all like customized information there is a real danger of being so trapped inside your filter bubble that you never see the other side of a story.  In order to be better informed, we need to know what each side is saying about an issue and not fall for confirmation bias (reading only sources that already fall in line with our current views). Here are two free resources to help you do just that!

  • All Sides

    Unlike regular news services, AllSides exposes bias and provides multiple angles on the same story so you can quickly get the full picture, not just one slant.

  • ProCon.org

    "Promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format."

WANT MORE INFORMATION?

ACT UP INFOGRAPHIC

Want a quick way to remember what ACT UP stands for? Download this handy infographic.

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ACT UP PRESENTATION

For more a presentation version of this website, you can download my canva presentation.

 

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