Can Scholarly Research Take Down Fake News?

LexisNexis Academic, Research Solutions, LexisNexis BIS

Fake news, fake headlines – very easily catch up on your attention; whether on print media or digital one. Fake news is everywhere; on your social website page, magazines, grocery store posters and what not. With an abundance of information presented to us on web, it is easy for us to get hands on daunting and absurd fake information, on which we laugh and brush it away. What to think of less savvy, less-updated news consumers when even journalists have been taken in by fake news stories? It's difficult for even veteran professionals – who have years of experience in interviewing and solid sources to gather information – to have a clearly marked distinction between what's fake and what's real in the big bad world out there!

researching fake news

Stanford Highlights Students' Vulnerability to Fake News

Stanford History Education Group had conducted a survey on over 7, 800 students from middle school through college and came up with quite disturbing facts. It stated that many college students associated authenticity with well-designed websites that facilitated links to conventional news pages or organizations. They were actually incapable of recognizing biased reports and often mistook sponsored posts as credible news articles. Lead author of the report, Professor Sam Wineburg stated, "Many people assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally perceptive about what they find there." This vicious process makes fake news popular on search engines and hence people start associating credibility to it. But actually, being digitally-savvy dos not make you intelligent enough to accurately identify fake news.

This problem needs to be acknowledged by librarians and educators, as early as possible. In the Huffington Post article, "How I Teach My Students To Be On Guard Against Fake News," high school teacher Lynn Kelly shares insights from teaching a 'Theory of Knowledge' course for college students. One project involves looking at a real-life situation and analyzing how students' personal beliefs affect their interpretation of information. Kelly notes, "The critical thinking skills at the heart of the assessment are crucial for modern media literacy and democracy. We fall victim to fake news when we don't understand our vulnerabilities that result from our biases and assumptions." She also emphasizes the importance of contextual knowledge, commenting on how some students struggle to understand the Black Lives Matter movement because they have little real knowledge of the Civil Rights movement. Ultimately, she concludes, "Practising critical thinking while developing content knowledge gives students a fighting chance at deciphering truth from fiction in today's news."

Academic Research Tool is here To Empower You

It's very easy for students to get confused with facts and fiction when it comes to media coverage (as we noted above, even journalists are not being able to escape it). Googling is the most convenient way for students to gather information but they need to understand that open web searches are most vulnerable to fake information. More the number of hits, more the news is pushed to become the top story – as the search results are based on popularity and revenue generation.

Till now there wasn't any option that offers access to trusted content that academic research actually demands. LexisNexis Academic research tool designed with and for digital natives has intuitive, flexible interface that aims to make information-seekers' job easier, and of course credible. The tool underwent almost a hundred demos in just three days of its launch and the users showed great excitement for its personalization, discovery and collaboration features that are complemented by it is unravelled content collection of news, business and legal sources. It will surely make students' efforts to identify fake news easier.