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1. Check out candidates' websites to see where they stand on issues.
2. Go to Congress.gov to research voting records, hot button issues, and contact information for incumbent candidates in the House or Representatives or Senate.
3. Attend campaign events, including town halls, in your local community. Local party offices, public libraries, and other community organizations usually have information on such events.
4. Find the campaign office and call or drop in. Ask to speak to the candidate and get your questions answered about the issues that matter to you.
5. Use Factcheck.org to track candidates' statements and claims.
6. Go to trusted sources to find out more about candidates.
Fact-checking is an important skill -- not only does it help you ensure that your college research and writing are free of bias and inaccuracies, but it also ensures that you are an informed consumer and citizen.
These are some well-known, reputable fact-checking sites that publish their findings online for quick reference:
- FactCheck.org: "a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases."
- LogicCheck: LogicCheck was inspired by the many fact-checking sites and sources dedicated to using principles and best practices of journalism to help citizens sort truth from falsehood during an age of political polarization and “fake news.” The LogicCheck project supports this same goal with a mission to look at not just facts, but arguments into which those facts fit.
- Media Bias/Fact Check: "We are the most comprehensive media bias resource on the internet. There are currently 900+ media sources listed in our database and growing every day. Don’t be fooled by Fake News sources."
- NewsGuard: "NewsGuard employs a team of trained journalists and experienced editors to review and rate news and information websites based on nine journalistic criteria. The criteria assess basic practices of credibility and transparency. "
- PolitiFact: "a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida."
- Snopes.com "a fact-checking website dating back to the 1990s. Members of the public can submit a claim, and researchers will investigate it for legitimacy and assign it one of several rankings, ranging from “true” and “mostly true” to “false” and “legend.”"
- AllSides "breaks trending topics down to three stories, written by sources identified as from the left, from the right, and from the center. The site also has bias ratings for more than 600 media outlets and individual writers."
Find similar sites, from all over the globe, with the Duke Reporters' Lab fact-checking database.
You can also use the SJR State Library to conduct political research. Here are a few recommended databases to get you started:
- Statista: With Statista, you can access the most recent and relevant statistics and studies on a specific topic by simply entering a keyword. Statista aggregates statistical data on over 600 international industries from more than 18,000 sources, including market researchers, trade organizations, scientific journals, and government databases.
- Opposing Viewpoints: Online experience for those seeking contextual information and opinions on hundreds of today's hottest social issues. Drawing on the acclaimed Greenhaven Press series, the new solution features continuously updated viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, statistics, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites organized into a user-friendly portal experience.
- Academic Search Complete: Academic Search Complete, designed specifically for academic institutions, is the world's most valuable and comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database, with more than 5,300 full-text periodicals, including 4,400 peer-reviewed journals. In addition to full text, this database offers indexing and abstracts for more than 9,300 journals and a total of 10,900 publications including monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc. The database features PDF content going back as far as 1865, with the majority of full text titles in native (searchable) PDF format.
Informed Voter Resources
How Voters Decide by
Call Number: Online Resource
Publication Date: 2006-09-05
This book attempts to redirect the field of voting behavior research by proposing a paradigm-shifting framework for studying voter decision making. An innovative experimental methodology is presented for getting 'inside the heads' of citizens as they confront the overwhelming rush of information from modern presidential election campaigns. Four broad theoretically-defined types of decision strategies that voters employ to help decide which candidate to support are described and operationally-defined. Individual and campaign-related factors that lead voters to adopt one or another of these strategies are examined. Most importantly, this research proposes a new normative focus for the scientific study of voting behavior: we should care about not just which candidate received the most votes, but also how many citizens voted correctly - that is, in accordance with their own fully-informed preferences.
Political Election Debates by
Call Number: St. Johns River/eResources eBooks
Publication Date: 2013-01-01
Political debates are an important facet of modern election campaigns. How politicians frame an argument, how the audience perceives it, and how the media decides to display it are key components in analyzing the outcome of a political debate, and ultimately, an election. Drawing mainly on the functional theory of political campaign discourse, William L. Benoit examines a wide variety of debates not only in the United States but across the globe. Because each phase of election offers new challenges, specific attention is paid to how primary versus general and incumbency influence the content of political leaders' debate practices. Specifically, the book delves into the history and nature of debates in various United States elections, including presidential, vice presidential, senatorial, gubernatorial, and mayoral candidates. Also examined are debates ranging from the United Kingdom to South Korea to Australia. Benoit also employs the issues ownership theory and functional federalism theory as a deeper part of the analysis. This book offers a critical examination and comprehensive overview of election debate theory.
Deciding What's True by
Call Number: St. Johns River/eResources eBooks
Publication Date: 2016-09-06
Over the past decade, American outlets such as PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, and the Washington Post's Fact Checker have shaken up the political world by holding public figures accountable for what they say. Cited across social and national news media, these verdicts can rattle a political campaign and send the White House press corps scrambling. Yet fact-checking is a fraught kind of journalism, one that challenges reporters' traditional roles as objective observers and places them at the center of white-hot, real-time debates. As these journalists are the first to admit, in a hyperpartisan world, facts can easily slip into fiction, and decisions about which claims to investigate and how to judge them are frequently denounced as unfair play. Deciding What's True draws on Lucas Graves's unique access to the members of the newsrooms leading this movement. Graves vividly recounts the routines of journalists at three of these hyperconnected, technologically innovative organizations and what informs their approach to a story. Graves also plots a compelling, personality-driven history of the fact-checking movement and its recent evolution from the blogosphere, reflecting on its revolutionary remaking of journalistic ethics and practice. His book demonstrates the ways these rising organizations depend on professional networks and media partnerships yet have also made inroads with the academic and philanthropic worlds. These networks have become a vital source of influence as fact-checking spreads around the world.
Call Number: St. Johns River/St. Augustine Circulation -- BD171 .M225 2018
Publication Date: 2018-03-06
"In a time when truth is under assault, Hector Macdonald is here to defend it. He offers clear-eyed, compelling guidelines for becoming a more accurate consumer and producer of information."-Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg For fans of Nudge, Sway, and The Art of Thinking Clearly, a fascinating dive into the many ways in which "competing truths" shape our opinions, behaviors, and beliefs. True or false? It's rarely that simple. There is more than one truth about most things. The Internet disseminates knowledge but it also spreads hatred. Eating meat is nutritious but it's also damaging to the environment. When we communicate we naturally select the truths that are most helpful to our agenda. We can select truths constructively to inspire organizations, encourage children, and drive progressive change. Or we can select truths that give a false impression of reality, misleading people without actually lying. Others can do the same, motivating or deceiving us with the truth. Truths are neutral but highly versatile tools that we can use for good or ill. In Truth: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality, Hector Macdonald explores how truth is used and abused in politics, business, the media and everyday life. He shows how a clearer understanding of truth's many faces renders us better able to navigate our world and more influential within it. Combining great storytelling with practical takeaways and a litany of fascinating, funny, and insightful case studies, Truth is a sobering and engaging read about how profoundly our mindsets and actions are influenced by the truths that those around us choose to tell.
Help with Research
The Research Process
This guide outlines simple and effective strategies to use when conducting research and writing a research paper.