Seven Tips for Spotting False Information and Bias

Trying to determine if that news or social media story you are reading is biased? Check your emotional response, says SMU Information Literacy Librarian Megan Heuer.

“A strong emotional response to a news story, positive or negative, is a sign that a story may need verification,” she says. Heuer regularly shares tips like this in her free public workshops on the SMU campus, “Finding Balanced News in a Biased World.

For librarians, helping students and patrons understand how to evaluate sources of information has long been a key part of their mission. Their code of ethics supports intellectual freedom. “Our personal beliefs do not impact the resources we collect or recommend” Heuer says.

“Instead, professional librarians teach students and library patrons to develop information literacy – the ability to find and evaluate information, to understand how and why it is produced and to use it ethically.”




Use fact-checking sites: When in doubt, verify stories on these sites, Snopes,, Politifact, Hoax Slayer, Truth or Fiction.


Conduct lateral searching instead of vertical searching: Scan a website, then open additional websites on the same topic seeking context and perspective. Don’t limit search to in-depth vertical analysis of one website.


Check age of domain: Use WHOIS to see when the web domain for the story was created. Be wary if the domain is brand new. It may have been created to host fake news.


Conduct a reverse image source: Use Google Images to see how an image has been used in the past and to confirm if the image originated with the story.


Beware of misleading media: Question selective sourcing, opinion-writing and advertising that masquerade as news, as well as quick-fix science news.


Recognize good reporting: Good reporting is ethical, represents multiple viewpoints, identifies sources and uses commonly accepted sources and authorities.


Is your news source biased? Several nonprofit organizations evaluate news bias and fact check news stories. To evaluate a news source or particular story, visit AllSides

Politifact, Factcheck or MediaBiasFactcheck.

See a schedule of all SMU Library workshops.

Article produced by SMU Media Relations for an Official Press Release

Get Familiar with Open Access Publishing

What is open access publishing?

Open access (OA) is the online publication of scholarly articles, at no cost to readers. With unsustainable increases in journal costs, OA could provide the answer to maintaining access to academic journals.


How “open” is open access publishing?

  • Gold journal: completely open access. Though content is freely available to readers, some journals may require the author to pay an article processing charge (APC).
  • Hybrid journal: some content is open access, while other parts are not.
  • Green journal: pre- and/or post-prints to an online repository, such as SMU Scholar.


Why would I choose open access?

Authors want to publish in reputable journals and get cited frequently. Open access allows worldwide access to your work. There is some evidence that OA publishing increases citation counts, and posting your work to a repository ensures indexing by Google Scholar.

Some grants require making your research publicly available, so OA publishing can satisfy the terms of this agreement.


Where do I find open access publications?

There are many highly regarded OA gold journals. Use the Directory of Open Access Journals to find journals in your discipline.

Post your work to an institutional or a disciplinary repository, if your publisher allows it. Look up publisher policies at Sherpa/Romeo. Note: networking sites like Research Gate are not the same as a repository.


What else should I know?

Your librarian can help with questions about OA publishing.

If you have a choice between a gold and a green journal, you are better off publishing in a gold journal.

Some universities have local OA policies. When you join a new institution, check their guidelines.

Actively avoid predatory journals that lure authors into paying to publish. Check the reputation of a journal if you have doubts.

You can maintain copyright, even for OA articles. Most platforms allow you to apply a Creative Commons license, so others use your work only in the ways you deem acceptable.

Interdisciplinary research and collaboration are the focus of the 2018 Prism Panel

What is the Prism Panel?

The current focus on interdisciplinary research and teaching at SMU and universities around the world is producing a range of innovative approaches, which are now shaping curricula, research agendas, and policies. Objective One of Goal Three of the SMU Strategic Plan, 2016-2025, Launching SMU’s Second Century, is to:
-“Encourage widespread development of campus-wide interdisciplinary research projects and programs for graduate and undergraduate students and faculty” (page 15).

In 2017, the SMU Libraries launched an exciting new series, the Prism Panel, designed to foster interdisciplinary conversations on the SMU campus. We are excited to announce the 2018 Prism Panel, which is scheduled for October 23rd, 5-6:30pm, in the Texana Room. Featured panelists are:

Christopher Roos, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Dedman College

Zachary Wallmark, Assistant Professor of Musicology and Assistant Professor of Psychology, Meadows School of the Arts and Dedman College, with Benjamin Tabak, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Dedman College

Jessie Marshall Zarazaga, Program Director of MA Sustainability and Development, Lyle School of Engineering, with Owen Lynch, Associate Professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Meadows School of the Arts

See the SMU Libraries website for full details of the event including descriptions of the presentation topics.

Why call it a “Prism” Panel?

A prism disperses clear light into wavelengths of many colors, much as disciplinary understandings may be understood in newly illuminating ways when viewed from other perspectives. Seeking to foster such interdisciplinary conversations, SMU Libraries brings scholars together who draw from different disciplines to enhance their research. This series, developed by SMU librarians, is fashioned after the TED Radio Hour on NPR. We love the idea of approaching one theme from various perspectives and by experts in various fields, and our version strives to facilitate interdisciplinary connections between faculty at SMU. We view a library as a space for ideas to formulate and grow: fostering knowledge-creation, communication and innovation.

The panel discussion includes 3-4 members of the faculty speaking for about 10 minutes each on an interdisciplinary collaboration of their choosing. We then open it up to Q&A and casual social interaction where attendees can make connections with members of other departments as well as with members of the audience. The series is meant to be casual and, we hope, fun!

Modern Masters Tapestries in Fondren

The Modern Masters Tapestries series, which hung in the DeGolyer Library Reading Room before Fondren’s completed renovation in 2016, is now on view in Fondren’s Collaborative Commons and other areas of the library.

Mondrian Tapestries on wall
A few of the Modern Masters Tapestries on view at Fondren Library
Another view of a Modern Masters Tapestry at Fondren
Another view of a Modern Masters Tapestry at Fondren


“The Unicorn is Found,” from the Unicorn Tapestries; Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts
“The Unicorn is Found,” from the Unicorn Tapestries; Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts Overall: 145 x 149 in. (368.3 x 378.5 cm), South Netherlandish, 1495-1505. Image courtesy the MET Museum, NY

A Bit of History about Tapestries

During the Middle Ages through the Renaissance (14th to 16th centuries), tapestries became commonplace in homes. In buildings with little insulation or heat, tapestries served the functional purpose – keeping the elements out and the heat in. Tapestries also served a secondary purpose – to display a sign of wealth and beauty. Like paintings, tapestries adorned the walls for those with financial means. Commissioned artisans were employed to design intricately woven designs in many of these tapestries, often creating beautiful mis-en-scènes or arranged scenery, that transported viewers to otherworldly lands. One of the most well-known series of such tapestries is the ornate seven-piece series, Hunt of the Unicorn, on display at the Cloisters in New York City. Even after centuries of exposure to sunlight and temperature, these 15th-century tapestries remain remarkably striking.

The Modern Masters Series

What was once considered craft is now seen as fine art. Since the 70s, many weaving companies began marketing their pieces to a wider audience, selling tapestries as the more affordable counterparts to paintings. One company that successfully merged the two was Modern Masters Tapestries. Modern Masters created large-scale reproductions of modernist paintings by artists including Joan Miró, Willem De Kooning, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, and Pablo Picasso. Modern Masters enlisted artisans to create tapestries that would find their way into commercial spaces and homes. Like the designs and motifs of the paintings created by these modern artists, the tapestries imbued color and personality in each room at a much lower cost than original paintings. People who wouldn’t normally have the means to afford a modernist painting could still have artwork reflective of their tastes. In Ruth J. Katz’s 1970s article on tapestries, she describes how textile design grew in popularity due to architects and designers finding new ways to incorporate textiles into both corporate and public spaces. Aesthetically pleasing designs and accents were no longer reserved for private spaces. The other spaces people frequented each day grew to feel like extensions of the home.

Phyllis Lynn, former curator of the art collection of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company describes the effect of fiber, “Fiber humanizes modern architecture…It softens all the hard edges and makes an atmosphere cozy.” The tapestries in Fondren Library do just that: they create a welcoming environment for students and visitors, making a normally bare, institutional space feel like a warm gathering space. The tapestries are also significant in that they may act as an introduction to modern 20th-century artists. Rather than existing in a gallery space, the tapestries hang in a common area where people converse, study, and move through. They do not need to go out of their way to view artwork; rather they may live with it, incorporating artwork into their everyday experience.
Thirteen of the Modern Masters tapestries originally found their way to SMU as a donation in the 1970s to the SMU and were installed in DeGolyer Library. Recently, the tapestries were stored during the renovation of Fondren Library. Faced with either disposing of the tapestries or finding new homes, Russell Martin, Director of the DeGolyer Library, shared pictures of the tapestries to then Interim Director of Fondren Library, Jolene de Verges. She contacted the Collections Manager at the Meadows Museum, Anne Lenhart, and together they found new spaces in Fondren to install them. Thus, the Collaborative Commons and other areas in Fondren are the newly enriched home to these tapestries.

After Joan Miró, "Circus", 1970s Wall-hanging tapestry,Wool Modern Masters Tapestries
After Joan Miró, “Circus”, 1970s Wall-hanging tapestry,Wool Modern Masters Tapestries 78 1/2 × 59 in; 199.4 × 149.9 cm


North view of some Modern Masters Tapestries
North view of some Modern Masters Tapestries


Grant, Daniel. A Good Yarn: Artists’ Tapestries Are Popping Up in Museums, but They’re Not Yet Woven Into the Market. August 20, 2013.

Katz, Ruth. The Swiftly Growing Field of Tapestries and Fiber Arts. 1981.
The Unicorn Tapestries

October 3rd is #AskAnArchivist Day!

Every wonder what archivists do? Do you have questions about rare items in our collections? Well here is your opportunity to ask all the questions! October 3th is Ask An Archivist Day. Archivists around the United States will be on Twitter to respond to all your questions.

SMU Libraries Archivists and Curators Joan Gosnell (University Archives), Christina Jenson (DeGolyer Library), Emily George Grubbs (Bywaters Special Collections), Jeremy Spracklin (Jones Film Collection), Tim Binkley (Bridwell Library), and James Williamson (Norwick Center for Digital Solutions) will be on hand to answer your questions on Twitter. Here is your chance to ask us anything. If you just want to know what archives are and the things we do in our day to day job, ask us for advice on how to preserve your important items, or learn about some of the interesting material we have worked with, all you have to do is just tag us on Twitter.

How to participate:

To participate in the national conversation, tag your question with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. If you want your question answered by someone at SMU, just tag one of our archivist along with the hashtag.

Got questions about SMU history? Tag Joan Gosnell (@joanofgos or @SMUArchives)

Joan Gosnell

Got questions on archives and DeGolyer Library? Tag Christina Jensen (@c_jensen_)

Christina Jensen

Got questions about art and performing arts material? Tag Emily George Grubbs (@artsarchivist)

Emily George Grubbs

Got questions about film and film restoration? Tag Jeremy Spracklin (@SMUJonesFilm)


Go questions on theological archives? Tag Tim Binkley (@BridwellLibrary)


Got questions about digital material? Tag James Williamson (@metalarchivist)

James Williamson

Or tag all of them if you just have questions about archives in general.

We hope to hear from you on October 3th!

In-depth Research Assistance From Your Couch

What is Virtual Connect?

With SMU Libraries’ new online service, you can now meet with a librarian from anywhere.  You can see and speak with a librarian from your laptop or mobile device, and share screens to help find what you need.

Book an appointment

To schedule your appointment, find the librarian assigned to your subject, click the “schedule an appointment” button, and then select the option for an online appointment.  Your confirmation email will include the URL for the meeting, instructions for mobile devices, and call in phone number, if needed.

Have question? Ask Us!

For Cox Business School research assistance, go here. 

Spotting Fake News

Why do people fall for fake news?  How do you verify a piece of news as real?  How do you determine bias?  What is the place of personal responsibility in finding good news?

There have been a lot of solutions proposed to fight the fake news problem – human fact-checking services, crowd-sourcing, and artificial intelligence among them – but there are some systemic problems with these solutions.  Given the changing face of fake news, automating a system of checks or blocking known fake news accounts can be a game of whack-a-mole.  Even worse, flagging content as fake leads to greater trust in unflagged, and potentially false, content, according to 2017 study.

We will discuss these topics among others at an upcoming workshop series:

Finding Balanced News in a Biased World Part 1

Tuesday, September 11th at noon,

Fondren Library Red 323

Finding Balanced News in a Biased World Part 2

Tuesday, September 18th at noon,

Fondren Library Red 323

Interested but can’t come at this time? SMU Libraries offers the Request a Workshop service to meet the needs of your class, writing group, department, or student organization. Schedule a convenient time and location that works for you by choosing from a list of possible topics or requesting a custom session.

Welcome Holly Jeffcoat, Dean of SMU Libraries

Dean Holly JeffcoatHolly E. Jeffcoat is the first Dean of SMU Libraries. Formerly the Associate Dean of UConn Library at the University of Connecticut where she was responsible for leading information technology, patron services, planning and core library operations, Holly assumed the role of Dean in August of 2018. Her vision for the newly established SMU Libraries includes creating a customized and responsive scholarly information and research environment in support of SMU’s pursuit of becoming a premier research and teaching university with global impact.


She began her library career as the Library Director for the Charles Darwin Research Station in Galapagos, Ecuador. She has also held positions at the University Of New Mexico College Of University Libraries and Learning Sciences as well as the UNM Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center.

Holly has published and presented on variety of scholarly communication topics, translational science support, use of virtual reality in education, and collection development in health sciences. Holly is a founding creator of BLC Leads, a leadership program for mid-career librarians in the Boston area and continues to serve as a program mentor. She is currently a member of the prestigious 2017-18 Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Library Leadership Fellows Program.

Holly received her M.A. in Information Resource and Library Science from the University of Arizona, her M.S. in Sociology from Utah State University and her B.A. in Psychology from Greensboro College.

New Here? 3 Ways to Get Research Help from SMU Libraries

Whether you’re a first-year college student, starting graduate school, or you’ve been here for a while and want help navigating the library’s resources, SMU Libraries can help.

Ask Us

We are here to answer your questions –from booking a study room to academic publishing. There are a lot of ways you can contact us, online or in person:

• Chat

• Email

• Phone

• At the Desk

Look for the red Ask Us tab on the right side of our website. You can send us a message right away. If chat isn’t available, don’t give up.  Check out our FAQs or send us an email. We will get back to you as soon as we can!

Screen Shot of SMU Libraries Main Page with Ask Us button on the right
Click on the red button (hint: it’s on the right)

Research Guides

Use subject guides to find the top databases and resources for your field, recommended by your subject librarian. They are a great place to start your research, and have links to in-depth guides on a variety of research topics. If you need more help, you can make an appointment with your librarian directly from the page. Just click the red Schedule an Appointment button to get individualized research help, face-to-face or online.

Screen Shot of Subject Librarian with schedule an appointment button
Look for this box to easily make an appointment

Research Workshops

Did you recently transfer to SMU? We have Research Essentials for Transfer Students workshop just for you.

Need an intro to graduate level research? Try Library 6001: Graduate Research Essentials. 

Want to learn how to manage your citations? Our RefWorks workshop is offered multiple times a semester.

We have research workshops aimed at all skill and comfort levels. Check out our full lineup.

Looking Back: SMU’s “The Campus” – June 7th, 1944

SMU newspaper reports on D-Day

On June 7, 1944, SMU’s “The Campus” newspaper reports on the tide turning invasion in France with a mix of editorials, hard-nosed journalism, features stories and typical campus happenings. This newspaper offers an excellent snapshot of what campus was like, nearly 75 years ago, with a world war raging.

Excerpt from “The Campus” June 7, 1944

In this issue you’ll find:

  • Student’s reaction of the invasion
  • Article from Vivian Anderson Castleberry, Journalist and women’s rights activist
  • A first hand account of of Japanese Relocation Camps
  • The Prayer from SMU president Umphree Lee made on WRR
  • Special chapel “Invasion Prayer Service”
  • The Mortar Board makes a donation to the library
  • Campus Calendar
  • Greek News

…and more

Currently, SMU Archives has digitized SMU’s student newspaper from 1915 through 1989, which offers a high quality look at all the articles, photos and advertisements of the each publication.