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Evaluating Sources: ACT UP: Evaluating sources

ACT UP Evaluating Sources Use the ACT UP Method to evaluate sources, push against dominant narratives, burst filter bubbles, and oppressive citation circles

  • 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 think 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. 

Take ACT UP with you!




  • 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 work?

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?



This guide is used and has been adapted with the permission of Dawn Stahura.  The ACT UP evaluation method was created by Dawn in 2017. For information about reusing the guide, please contact

Note: When copying this guide, please retain this box.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License




  • What date was the resource published?
  • Do you need to find up-to-date current information?
  • Does the resource's publication date fit the required date range of your assignment?
  • If you are on a website, can you find when the site was last updated?
  • If a website has not been updated in over a year, walk away.




There is no such thing as unbiased. We all have biases.

  • What we are looking for are resources that are impartial.
  • If a resource tells us up front that they have a particular mission or viewpoint, that's great. It's when folx try to hide their biases that we run into trouble.
  • Who funded the research?
  • Research is expensive so follow the money. The funders might have a vested interest in the outcome of the research.
  • Remember when we Googled the authors? Did you uncover any conflicts of interest?

There is no such thing as unbiased. We all have biases.

  • What are your own viewpoints on the topic?
  • Are you selecting resources that confirm your own biases?
  • How you feel about a topic will affect the way you search and use the information that you find.




  • How accurate and reliable is the resource?
  • Are there typos and spelling mistakes throughout the text?
  • Can you verify any claims in other sources?
  • Follow the rule of three - You should be able to back up claims in at least three other sources.
  • If the language of the resource seems WILD! OUTLANDISH!! SCANDALOUS!!! with a bunch exclamation marks, walk away.

Truth time.

Just because you found something from a reputable site does not mean the site cannot contain shoddy research, misinformation, or false claims.




  • Privilege in publishing = mostly white male scholars and researchers.
  • Ask yourself, are they the only folx that research and write about the topic?
  • I mean, do only white males research and write about their findings? (HINT: NO!)
  • Who is missing from the research conversation?

Really look at the methodology section. Really look.

  • Who participated? Or more importantly, who didn't?
  • Can the results be applied to a 'general' population?
  • (Example: If a study only researched white females with breast cancer and the efficacy of a certain drug, can we use the findings to say the drug would be beneficial to Native American women with breast cancer?)

Scholarship exists outside of scholarly articles.

  • Take time to search for sources/authors who are not represented in the databases so that your research is well-rounded and inclusive.
  • Try searching for books, blogs, zines, open access journals, and other alternative media.


What about you?

  • Another aspect of privilege is access.
  • Who else has access to the resource you found?
  • Is it protected behind a paywall? Do you need an academic affiliation to read the resource?
  • What does that mean for folx doing research without the same access as you?