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IF I APPLY: Identifying Bias & Resource Credibility

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Often we seek information that confirms our own thoughts and feelings towards a topic. This is not research. Research and learning comes from finding sources that speak to the truth of a topic, no matter how much it hurts, or does not fit with your current ideas and beliefs.

Only by keeping personal biases in check can you begin to vet information for credibility. These steps will help you find sources that are credible and reliable in your research process. 

IF I APPLY is a method for identifying bias, both personal and external, and then using this as a baseline for determining the credibility of a resource. Information is neither good nor bad. Resources, and information, have a time and place when they will be useful for a specific topic or need.  

IF I APPLY is not meant to be used as a checklist, but rather as a tool to facilitate and guide critical thinking.

The Personal Steps: IF I

Identify emotions attached to the topic.

Find unbiased reference sources that will provide a proper and informative overview of the topic.


Intellectual courage is needed to seek authoritative voices on the topic that may fall outside your comfort zone or thesis. 

The Source Steps: APPLY

Authority established.

  • Does the author have education, experience, and expertise in the field?

Purpose/Point of view.

  • Does the author have an agenda beyond education or information?


  • Does the publisher have an agenda?

List of sources (bibliography).

  • Is the evidence reliable, sensible, and accessible?

Year of publication.

  • Does the date of publication affect the information?