VCU Libraries

Research Guides

PPAD 791 and GVPA 691

COVID-19 Pandemic Response: The Social Life of Public Policy

Evaluating Substantive Sources

Consider the following when reviewing substantive, but non-peer reviewed sources:

  • Authority: Do the authors have a reason to be authoritative on this topic? 
  • Bias: Do the authors represent a group or agency that has a vested interest in how the research is perceived or the conclusion reached?
  • Timeliness: Is the material relevant/timely? Is it too recent, meaning it cannot be verified in another source?

Evaluating News Sources

Consider using a fact checking website to help you evaluate news sources.

  • FactCheck.org: From their mission: We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.
  • Politifact: PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida, as is PunditFact, a site devoted to fact-checking pundits. The PolitiFact state sites are run by news organizations that have partnered with the Times. The state sites and PunditFact follow the same principles as the national site.
  • AllSides: AllSides provides multiple angles on a topic, to help weed out media bias.
  • Media Bias/Fact Check: provides a scale of news sources, to judge their level of bias.

Also consider using news sources that are generally described as neutral.

  • Associated Press. Widely considered to be the most trustworthy of new sites.
  • Reuters: An excellent source of news, with little to no bias.