What Is a Fact? A fact is a statement proved true or false by objective and empirical means.
User generated content exists side-by-side with main stream news. Americans Adults vary in ability to classify factual news from opinion according to a recent survey by Pew. (Pew, Facts & Opinions, 2018). Take this Pew Research quiz to rate your ability to distinguish fact from opinion.
Evaluating news sources is particularly important in the wake of the realization that "fake news" has been influencing the public more than previously suspected. As we make our way through this "post-truth" era, we need to be especially aware of where we're getting our news and how it's affecting us.
In today's world, "news" isn't just newspaper articles or television. It's Facebook, Twitter, Google News, LinkedIn, and all other social media. Apply the same principles above to social media and be especially wary of pictures that can be misleading or may have been edited.
Primary sources differ between disciplines. In general, they are the original information, data, words, thoughts, images, laws, or conversations of individuals or collaborative groups.
In the sciences primary sources contain the original, first hand data or primary information "found" and "analyzed" by the researcher(s)/scholar(s); primary information comes from experiments, observations, interviews, and artifacts, often recorded as data. The findings and analysis of the data are often recorded by the original researchers in scholarly journals, conference reports, technical reports, dissertations, lab notebooks, and patents.
In literature, primary sources are considered the original works of literature. These sources can include novels, poetry, newspaper articles, blogs, tweets, websites, films, songs, television shows. Commentary on and analysis of these works are considered secondary sources.
In history primary sources are the artifacts of the time period being investigated. This can consist of personal diaries, personal/corporate papers, laws & treaties of the time, newspaper accounts from the time period, court records of the time, images (art or photography), buildings, material culture (desks, clothes, tools, clocks, etc.)
In general, secondary sources analyze, synthesize, interpret and evaluate primary sources. The secondary sources are generally written by someone studying primary sources.
Tertiary sources can be textbooks, handbooks, encyclopedias, or indexes that summarize or organize the existing knowledge on a topic in a discipline using secondary sources.