Fake News – Is it true or is it a fake?

There has been a lot written about fake news recently. With many thinking it effected the US elections and the Brexit vote in the UK.

What is Fake news?

Fake news can be relatively harmless satire or a deliberate attempt to mislead. Unfortunately fake news tends to be written is such a way that they  attract high numbers of shares. This is deliberate as they can generate large amounts of income for their publishers.

Why does it matter?

It matters because not everybody realises they are Fake News stories.

For example we hope you would realise this is fake –


But there are clues – the byline says Doug Trench (unlikely name) and it is on a website called the Suffolk Gazette which states it is “Let us tell you the Suffolk Gazette is without question Britain’s best spoof news and satire news site – all with a lovely Suffolk twist.”

However the reason this fake news is hitting the headlines is because of stories being shared connected with the US elections and the EU referendum.

This clipping was shared widely but is completely untrue – _92449335_trumppeople1998

Google and Facebook are both under fire for not flagging things as untrue so expect to hear more about this as they work on algorithms to sort it out.

There are lots of sites to check if something is true or not 

Here are three which either check the stories or you can check the facts

Snopes – http://www.snopes.com

Full Fact:  https://fullfact.org/

Fact Check: http://www.factcheck.org/

Here are Golden Rules for checking

  • Read before Sharing
  • Check the date
  • Avoid sites that aren’t balanced if looking for facts
  • Check if other reliable sources are reporting it
  • Fact check – Snopes and other sites
  • Ask a librarian if you want more help – information is our job

We have put together a video which gives you an overview of how to test if something is true or not.


Shelf-Help: helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading

We all need a little help sometimes. It might be to make sense of things happening to us or a friend. The library has collected together books from the Reading well Books on Prescription list to help everyone in the college who wants a little Shelf-help.

The list of books is available here. There is a mix of ebooks and print books available.

How are the books selected?

The books for the lists were selected using an evidence-based approach supported by a rigorous process of consultation and expert advice. The titles have all been recommended by experts as useful, effective and accessible and tried and tested by people with lived experience.

How to get the most from the books

Respected professionals with relevant experience have produced guides to help people get the most out of the reading recommended by Reading Well Books on Prescription.

Common mental health conditions:


A final word from the Library We hope that this book will help you, but please help us by not writing in it! It can be very tempting when you find an idea that you want to highlight, or a worksheet that you want to fill in. It’s ok to photocopy a few pages for your own use.


Mass Observation Archive Online

The library now has access to the Mass Observation Archive online.

Mass Observation Archive Online is an online archive of British social history from 1937- 1972, with a focus on the World War Two period (1939-1945). The Mass Observation research project involved the scientific observation of public attitudes and opinions. Mass Observation online is an online archive of the original research documents created by the University of Sussex library. There is a large amount of help information available here.

Key features

  • File reports on a range of subject areas (1937-1972)
  • Day Surveys and Diaries recording every-day experiences and opinions of the general public (1937-1945)
  • Directives recording opinions of the general public on pre-determined research topics (1939-1945)
  • Books and Essays published by the Mass Observation project
  • Other personal papers collected by the Mass Observation research project

Subjects who might find this useful

  • History
  • Politics and International Relations
  • Sociology
  • Criminology
  • Media Arts
  • Geography

To read about using the physical archive you can view this post by one of our librarians who used it in her MA.

Mass Observation Archive

There are lots of specialist archives around the country which may help students here at RHUL.

One of these is the Mass Observation Archive which is based at The Keep in Falmer (near Brighton) in Sussex. The archive contains lots of material about everyday life in Britain on a large range of topice. The original Mass Observation social research organisation (1937 to early 1950s) collected lots of material via questionnaires, interviews and diaries. The Victoria Wood play Housewife, 49 (available on BoB ) is based on one Mass Observation diarist. Newer material has been collected continuously since 1981.

We also have access to the Mass Observation Archive online.

I used the archive when I was studying for my MA Film Studies as part of my dissertation on Women, Romance and World War II. The archive interviewed and collected information on all sorts of topic including film and was an invaluable resource to me. (It even surveyed cinema queues)

Books and journal articles can tell you a lot but the material here is primary resources, written by ordinary people. From the archives I learnt a lot more than I could have done just from reading books or even contemporary newspaper articles.

Amongst the things I found out were:

“Almost invariably the Nazi salute has resulted in laughter from the audience while anti-war talk has been received with great interest.” (17/3/A: Film Questionnaire 1939)

One questionnaire asked for suggestions on how cinemas should be improved –

“Patrons cars should be washed and polished for free whilst in a cinema’s car park.”

“That a rigid ban should be imposed on the consumption of peanuts.” (BOX 2: FILMS 1936 – 42, 17/2/A: The Bernstein Report)


In an Interview with the Manager of  Classic Cinema Tooting. On Thursday 16th November 1939

“Our business is kept by women. In wartime they have husbands and sons serving, say sons, your age, who they know have got no life, they have sacrificed everything, they’ve got to mix with Tom, Dick and Harry, and may lose an arm or a leg. That’s the woman’s view. Therefore in the suburban halls we leave war films entirely alone.”

(TC 17 Box 4)

This really gave me a sense of what the actual cinema-going public were thinking and helped me to form my research as it reminded me that indeed the men would be off fighting so women would want less war and more escapism.

There were also surveys of the 1536  letters to Picturegoer magazine in 1940. This included an analysis of topics covered, 47% were about stars and 55% were written by men. Whilst the books I was reading were telling me all about the soldiers and the war this helped me shape the idea that people were turning to the cinema for escapism and even taking the time to write to magazines about it. These letters also drew attention to the fact that Deanna Durbin was one of the most popular stars at this time, not something I was able to find out elsewhere where the books and contemporary accounts are often written by critics and don’t necessarily reflect public opinion.

My favourite box of treasures was FILMS M36-50 Box 1 as this contained reports from the Mass Observation correspondents.

Gems from this include this overheard conversation reported by G.L. Wallace:

1. “ I suppose it will be a long time before we shall see “Gone With The Wind” here, did you see in the paper that they weren’t to let people in for under 2/6?”

2. “No, not really, still I suppose it is a long film, four hours long isn’t it?”

1. “I read 3 hours and 41 minutes, still the book was very long.”

2. “I never read the book, that sort of stuff bores me.”

1. “Well, I hope they have the film here, my Gert (?her daughter) wants to see it awful badly”

Gone With the Wind was released and in terms of tickets sold is still the most successful film at the British Box office (BFI. 2010. The Ultimate Film, 4/9/2006 2004 [cited 03/07/2010 2010]. Available from http://www.bfi.org.uk/features/ultimatefilm/) – people obviously did part with their 2/6 but nowhere else did I find anything about the fact that people were discussing it.

Joyce Ausden:

“Children, by the way, are amused at the sight of any Germans “Goose Stepping,” they shout with decisive laughter. They also boo loudly at any picture of Hitler.”

G.L. Wallace:

“Wartime cinema audiences are definitely more responsive than they were before the war, except possibly for the short period immediately before the outbreak. With regard to chorus-singing, for instance. People will sing perfectly happily in a music-hall, and extremely unwillingly in a cinema, yet, when I went to one of our larger local cinemas on the evening of Sept. 2nd, everyone, myself included, bawled happily at the tops of their voices. This chorus-singing, mainly with an organ, is catered for to a much larger extent since the war. Quite a different aspect of people’s rather free-and-easy attitude in the cinema was shown by the fact that quite large numbers of the audience booed and hissed when Hitler appeared on the screen. Rude remarks were shouted too such as “I’d like to wring his bloody neck”, and “Pity somebody doesn’t bump him off.” These, however, have died down not, although there are occasional humorous remarks when any members of the German Government appear on the screen. The sudden outburst of songs and jokes about them have made the German Cabinet appear to the average man in this country to be a secondary “Crazy Gang.”

“The Blackout has made a great deal of difference to cinema-going in this district. On a normal weekday night (except Saturday) when the weather is reasonably fine about the same number of people go to the cinema as in peace-time. But if the night is at all cloudy or unpleasantly wet, the number is very much smaller than usual. Before the war the cinemas on Saturday night were packed and many people had to queue up and stand, now however the cinemas are no fuller on a Saturday night than on any other night. There has been a great increase in the number of people going to the first performances (approx 2-5) and also to the second house while the last house is often fairly empty, depending on the weather conditions etc.”

I could never have achieved such a rich picture of cinema-going in wartime without the Mass Observation Archive. You can access it online here.

Helen Rimmer

Promoting your research using Google Scholar for your own citations

Google Scholar

My Citations is a  feature which provides a simple way for authors to keep track of citations to their articles. You can check who is citing your publications, create graphs of your citations over time, and compute several citation metrics. You can also make your profile public, so that it appears in Google Scholar results when people search for your name .

"Bibliography" by Alexandre Duret-Lutz. C BY-SA. Flickr.
“Bibliography” by Alexandre Duret-Lutz. C BY-SA. Flickr.

It is very quick to set up and simple to maintain – even if you have written hundreds of articles, and even if your name is shared by several different scholars. You can add groups of related articles, not just one article at a time; and your citation metrics are computed and updated automatically as Google Scholar finds new citations to your work on the web. You can even choose to have your list of articles updated automatically – but you can also choose to review the updates yourself, or to manually update your articles at any time.

First, create a regular Google account, or sign in to the one you already have. It is a good idea to use a personal account, not your university account, so that you can keep your profile for as long as you wish, even if you change jobs.

1. Once you’ve signed in to your Google account go to Google Scholar, select the link to My Citations. There are three stages to complete.

The Citations sign up form will ask you to confirm the spelling of your name, and to enter your affiliation, interests, etc. We recommend that you also enter your university email address, because that would make your profile eligible for inclusion in Google Scholar search results.


2. On the next page, you’ll see groups of articles written by people with names similar to yours.
Click “Add all articles” next to each article group that is yours, or “See all articles” to add specific articles from that group. I
f you don’t see your articles in these groups, click “Search articles” to do a regular Google Scholar search, and then add your articles one at a time.
3. Once you’re finished adding articles, you will be asked what to do when the article data changes in Google Scholar. You can either have the updates applied to your profile automatically, or you can choose to review them beforehand. In either case, you can always go to your profile and make changes by hand.
Finally, you will see your profile. This is a good time to make a few finishing touches – upload your professional looking photo, visit your email inbox and click on the verification link, double check the list of articles, and, once you’re completely satisfied, make your profile public.
5. Once your profile is public you can be searched for by name. Your profile will display the articles which have been collected by Google Scholar, the number of citations they have received (citations indices), and a map of your H-index.

You can also search for others by name, or by name of institution or place in the My citations screen: (NB note also the My Citations – Help feature). Run a search on ‘Royal Holloway’ (or any other institution) and see who else has registered on My Citations.

If you notice some of your articles are not in your Google Citations profile, you can sign in to your Citations profile, and select ‘Add” option from the pull down Actions menu. Search for your articles using titles, keywords, or your name. To add one article at a time, click ‘Search articles’ and then ‘Add article’ next to the article you wish to add. Your citation metrics will update immediately.

If your search doesn’t find the right article, click ‘Add Article manually’. Then, type in the title, authors etc and click ‘Save. (NB Citations to manually added articles may not appear in your profile for a while).