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Can I Trust the Information?

Evaluation and Citation Wizards

Students may find it helpful to use online tools to evaluate the credibility of an author or a publisher (owner), to fact-check and to cite the information using a standard style. These two wizards, while created for middle school and above, may be used to enter information as directed. Also see online tools from other sources.


  • ISTE NETS for Students #3: Research and Information Fluency:
    • "evaluate information from a variety of sources and media"
    • "ethically use information from a variety of sources and media"
  • apply techniques for exploring the credibility of the author and publisher and fact-checking
  • use tools to cite the author and publisher


Evaluation Wizard

Elementary students should be able to locate the author and or owner of information found online. It is important to have good questions to ask about an author's or owner's qualifications before trusting that person. The wizards pose several questions that may be used to fact-check an author or publisher's experience, for example, what colleges did they attend? What jobs have they had? Using a search engine to double check the facts is always a good idea and may verify what an author says, or contradict it. Students may use this Wizard to type in notes about what they found about an author and/or publisher, print it out and hand it in.

Looking at information from three perspectives, or three sides, is required before the Wizard will print a report. In addition to author and publisher (owner), students should fact-check evidence they find on the site. Especially in the case of hoax sites, the author and publisher may actually be experts in the field. Fact-checking an important claim on the page (such as the title of the site) often reveals it to be a hoax. See Fact Checking. (Other Wizard categories, date, bias, links, etc., may be introduced before middle school as the instructor sees fit.)

Citation Wizard

Elementary students should understand the importance of giving credit to the author of information. While providing a complete citation may be beyond the capacity of elementary students, they should be taught a consistent way to show that materials they want to use are used ethically, that is, citing the source. Since finding the date of online materials can be difficult, that skill is not included in this elementary curriculum. All the other citations skills may be found in the Full Circle Resource Kit, intended for middle school and above.

Using the Information Fluency Citation Wizard may be too complicated for elementary students since the results show all the information that was omitted (date, volume, etc.). Depending on the age and maturity of the student, you may be able to require them to format a complete citation.