How do I determine if an author is biased?
Last Updated: Jan 19, 2022     Views: 26

Bias is defined as a fixed opinion or mindset in an author’s writing, resulting in the loss of objectivity. Bias can occur when an author excludes or ignores strong evidence, conveys an extreme attitude, or emotionally charged feeling with certain word choices, and/or uses a selection of facts. 

Authors should write impartially and comprehensively. Writing unbiasedly means writing with curiosity and engaging with all facts and evidence rather than presenting a personal prejudice, preference, or belief. 

Here are some tips and questions to ask yourself to help determine if an author is biased and credible: 

Practice critical reading. This allows you to examine the writing on a deeper level. By reading critically, you will interpret, question, and weigh the value of the information presented. 

Who is the author? If you are unfamiliar with an author, you can do a simple web search to learn more about their background. Then think critically to help determine the author’s credibility. For example, an article on climate change written by an environmental scientist will likely hold more worth within that field than one written by a psychiatrist. Also, take into account possible biases between the author and the subject. A piece on privacy rights written by the CEO of a social media company is likely to present biases. 

Be skeptical and determine trustworthiness when a source has no author listed or is published by a corporation with a known or evident bias.  

Does the author provide a reference list? Exploring the references should demonstrate if the author has researched the subject well. 

Has the author interpreted the facts and evidence correctly? 

Is the article one-sided and no counterargument is presented or does the author make illogical assumptions? 

Author bias and credibility should get easier to determine over time and with experience. As you read and research within your field, you may begin to recognize certain authors and better understand which ones are well-known and have credibility in your field. 

Need More?  Check out our Evaluate Sources guide. 

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