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EN 111: College Writing

The ACT UP Method

If your professors says that you need "reputable" or "reliable" sources, what does that mean? It usually indicates that they want your sources to be published through some system that has an editing, review, and/or fact-checking process, and that the sources should provide verifiable evidence to back up any claims. 

The ACT UP method is a series of questions to guide you through learning more about a source and its societal context. It can help you determine that a source is or isn't suitable for your paper, and it will also help you learn more about each source you do use. This is especially useful if you are unsure about a source or the claims it makes.

Author Who is the author? What can you learn about them? What else have they written? Look at the author information given on the article, if available. Google them!
Currency When was it written? When was it published? How current should something be for your project? Do you need something from a specific time period?
Truth How are the claims supported? What is the evidence? Can you find other sources that also support the claims? Compare to other sources you have found, and do more searches.
Unbiased What is the purpose of the source? Does it have a stated point of view? Is it trying to convince the audience of something? Could there be a hidden bias? Can you identify it? You don't need to avoid bias, but you need to identify what the bias is.
Privilege There is privilege in both academic and popular publishing. These authors are probably not the only people who have something to say about this topic. What other perspectives would be relevant to this topic? Whose perspectives are missing?

ACT UP In Action

This is an example of using the ACT UP method as a note-taking guide to learn about and evaluate a source.

I did a search for "light pollution" and used one of the articles I found as an example. Read the example in the embedded view on this page or from the link to read it in Google Docs. Use the link below to get a copy of this template, and fill it in with information about an article you have read.

Next Steps: Finding More Sources

A well-supported argument needs several sources. Once you have assessed the first few sources you find, consider what purpose each of those sources serves in your paper and what else you need. Different sources work together as a team.

  • Do you have a news article that mentions research findings?
    • Try to find that research! Search for the title or researcher's name in the Discovery search on the library homepage.
  • Do you have a research article that only looks at one part of the issue?
    •  Search for more research on that topic. 
  • Do you have informative research articles about a topic that has changed a lot recently?
    • Search for news articles about recent developments. Use the news section of Opposing Viewpoints or search in any of our news databases.
  • Do you have qualitative information—like personal experiences or research that is based on interviews—and want the numbers on something?
    • Look up numerical data on Statista!
  • Do you have articles that look at your topic from one particular perspective?
    • Search for sources that contribute other points of view. Take another look at the Viewpoints section in Opposing Viewpoints.
  • Do you have personal perspectives on your topic?
    • Search for research! Use the Academic Journals section of Opposing Viewpoints, or check out the list of library databases by subject to find one that might cover your topic.
  • Here are some links to things mentioned in this box: 

Sources for this page

Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. 2016,

Simmons University Library. "Evaluating Resources." 2022,

Stahura, Dawn. "ACT UP for evaluating sources: Pushing against privilege." College & Research Libraries News [Online], 79.10 (2018): 551, view/17434/19242.

University of California - Santa Barbara Library. "ACT UP Source Evaluation." Vimeo, 2020,