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English 102: Dissecting

ACT UP - Source Evaluation as Social Justice

In a world that is increasingly confronting the systemic inequalities inherent in society, Dawn Stahura from Salem State University developed a method of evaluating sources called ACT UP.

A - Author

  • Who wrote the resource?
  • Investigate the author. Background information is important.
  • Do they have any conflict of interests due to any of their organizational affiliations. Conflicts of interests are bias
  • Can't find an author? That may be problematic/\.

C - Currency

  • When was the source written?
  • Is the information/ sources drawn on in the source current?
  • Can you locate the last time a website was updated?
  • Is the website over a year out of date? Depending on your topic that may be problematic.

T - Truth

  • How accurate is the source?
  • Is the source poorly edited?
  • Can you verify the information in other sources?
  • Is the information in the source written in sensational, outrageous language? This may reveal the author's bias.
  • Just because the source is taken from a "reputable" site does not mean that that it is inherently accurate.

U - Unbiased

  • There is no such this as an unbiased source. We all have biases.
  • If an author is up front with their viewpoint or intentions don't shy away. It is more concerning when a creator attempts to conceal their intentions.
  • How was the research funded? The outcome of the research may have been skewed depending on where the money is derived from.
  • Remember you have your own implicit biases as well. Are you choosing only sources that fulfill your confirmation bias? You may be trying to prove a specific thesis but this does not mean you should selectively cite sources that only confirm your initial thoughts. 

P - Privilege 

  • Historically white, male researchers and scholars have been privileged in academic publishing.
  • Whose voices are missing or being silenced from the scholarly conversation?
  • Remember, scholarly sources are not the only worthwhile sources. Take your time to locate other mediums that may be easier for marginalized voices to publish their research. Books, blogs, zines, open access journals are all worthwhile expressions of scholarly information as well.
  • Remember your own privilege. Access is a form of privilege. Is this resource behind a paywall or require an academic affiliation? How does this effect the research of others who do not have your access?

This portion of this guide on "ACT UP"  has been adapted from Salem State University Library. "ACT UP" and the ACT UP Infographic were created by Dawn Stahura, Research & Instruction Librarian for Health & Science - Salem State University.

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

But what about Google? Safiya Noble and Algorithms of Oppression

Citation Politics

  • Every act is a politcial act, citing is no different. Citation Politics revolves around the reproduction of the academic status quo. White, Male authors are by far the most cited in an academic context. This reality shows that in our research we are drawing on a very limited set of lived experiences.
  • Women, People of Color, and other members of marginalized groups are significantly less cited. This occurs regardless of these individuals' credentials, experiences, or expertise. Mainstream mediums of scholarly publishing have historically not been inclusive making it inherently more difficult for researchers to locate published works by marginalized individuals.
  • Traditionally a factor in establishing authority has been derived from how many times an author is cited in other people's research. However, most cited or widespread availability does not necessarily mean highest quality

What Can We Do?

  • Make a concerted effort to cite the works of members of marginalized groups. Do your research and look up the author's you are citing. The best way to help raise these voices up is to include them with your own.
  • Embrace Citation Politics that are feminist and anti-racist. This means reject normative academic practices that have been historically nominated by white men. 
  • Follow the data. Pay attention to where author's got the data they used. Do not be satisfied receiving the data from a secondary source, you may be surprised where the data is derived.
  • Confront your own implicit bias. Know your own positionality and critically assess how who you cite can affects academic research on a grander scale.