Planning for Research Success — Phase VI

This is another step in the planning and research process. Previous steps are found in earlier postings. We will post additional steps in coming weeks.

Step six is to review the collected information to assure accuracy. Unless you vet and validate both the information and the sources, the client has no way of knowing whether to rely on the information. The outlines of this phase are dealt with here. There will be further development of the minutiae of this critical step later in the manual.


Remember, good sources can give bad information and bad sources sometimes give good information. Evaluate carefully because:

  • Few safeguards exist to ensure Internet information is accurate
  • Anyone can publish anything on the Web
  • It is often hard to determine a Web page’s authorship
  • Even if a page is signed, qualifications are usually not provided
  • Sponsorship is not always indicated


The material should match the customer’s requirements. There are a variety of requirements for the analysis, a list that is common in the research world.

Analysis of collected materials, to extract the information that matches the client’s needs, is key. Collected materials are analyzed for:

  • Authority/Qualifications (does the person know what they are talking about)
  • Accuracy (consistency with other materials, validation, sources).
  • Currency (timely or dated).
  • Objectivity (from advocacy groups, balanced viewpoints, analysis of links, claims to speak for groups).
  • Credibility (properly identifies itself, citied by others, background record of web site and hosting service).
  • Relevancy (particularly applies to the Internet since not all Web pages containing the key words are relevant to the subject).
  • Coverage (does it completely cover the subject)
  • Appearance (does it appear to be professional and business-like)



Supreme Court rules that Internet information doesn’t have to be accurate

Supreme Court rules that Internet information doesn’t have to be accurate


The court opened the possibility that if inaccurate information caused actual harm that consumers might be able to sue successfully. Anyone-can-say-anything is still the rule; made up “facts” are still acceptable. But the Supreme Court ruling suggests search firms will have to consider tightening up on their accuracy or face angry consumers in court. While the case was brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act expect the use of this attack method to widen as attorneys look for novel ways to force “truth in reporting.”

Read the full story at

Good Breaks for your CAR

Investigative Journalists doing Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR) need to be extra careful in their work. As we are doing some specialized work on security for media people, The Research School permanent staff member Tom Liffiton found a number of resources that may be useful in improving the safety of reporters doing CAR. (The information is also useful for anyone doing Information Logistics and moving information to their own sites for use.)

The Committee to Protect Journalists offers the “CPJ Journalists Security Guide” at (This is very good guide that we think covers many of the topics that need to be addressed.)

“Information Security for Journalists” is a publication of The Centre for Investigative Journalism. Free download in a number of digital formats is available at

The “Digital Security” page of the Global Investigative Journalism Network is a quick and useful security overview for journalists at

The “Security for Journalists, Part One: The Basics,” page is at  . Part Two, on Threat Modeling, is at .

Global Journalist Security at offers a variety of classes for journalists, NGO workers and human rights activists.

Would You Believe….?

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) wonks will probably find “15-point checklist of Putin regime’s propaganda techniques“ at to be a useful item. While it will appeal to the OSINT practitioners, the article is useful for anyone doing Open Source Research because it deals with the often-ignored part of OSINT – assessment of the material collected. It is not enough to collect things off the Internet, the information that is gathered must be analyzed for a number of things, including accuracy, and properly assessed. The concepts outlined in this particular piece, while it concentrates on the propaganda techniques used by one country against another one, can be extrapolated to any number of situations. The page also has a variety of links that may be useful to those interested in further assessment issues and the need to identify propaganda in collected resources.