misinformation and disinformation
Data in the Real World – Case Study Due: Sunday 28th March, 11.59pm
Length: 500 words +/- 10%: The word count includes in-text citations and sub-
headings, but does not include the reference list.
Please bear in mind that the word count has been set as an indication of the workload required, and
also our expectations of the depth with which you will investigate, analyse and discuss your example.
There is great skill in writing in less words, rather than more. To enforce this, your markers will not
mark beyond the 550 words (551, 552, etc. words are over the word count).
This assessment asks you to consider the influence of misinformation and disinformation on
contemporary society. It is a 500-word critical analysis of a specific example of misinformation or
disinformation (you will be given examples or you can choose your own). The general purpose of a
descriptive case study is to understand a situation better. In this instance you will explore (describe
and analyse) a particular example of misinformation or disinformation; and then recommend a
course of action for addressing this situation and others that have similar features (i.e. how we can
counter the misinformation or disinformation to reduce its influence on society).
As many of you are in your first year of formal university study, and this ‘type’ of assignment is new
to you, we are providing detailed notes of how to prepare and present your case study. These notes
are designed to help you pass, they do not guarantee a high mark. For the highest grades, originality
that comes with confidence and greater understanding of the topic would be expected. For those
who are more confident in your writing, feel free to construct your argument as you wish, but make
sure you address the 3 main points included in the “drafting your assignment” section.
What you need to do:
1. Choose your case study: this should be an example of misinformation, disinformation, or fake
news: (see list at the end of this document)
1. A list has been provided, but you can also propose your own – please email the UCs on
2. You MUST NOT use the example provided in the ACTION task for Module 2: if you do, then
you will receive 0 for the assessment task.
3. Identify what kind of information the ‘case study’ is (is it misinformation, disinformation, or
4. Identify the original source of circulation for the case study. Use this as your reference point.
You need to include a full citation to the original source at the start of your assignment (this
is not included in the word count). You should then decide on an abbreviated ‘nickname’ for
the case study item and use this within your discussion.
2. Analyse the case study (before writing) – you will be taken through an example of this in the
ACTION task of Module 2. These questions are designed to help you ‘plot out’ your discussion: your
assignment should not simply question-answer responses (see point 3 below)
1. First reactions to the false narrative:
What is the claim? Why does it exist?
Do you instinctively trust what the claimant is saying? Why or Why not?
What impact does the claim have when you don't know if it is true or not?
2. The context of the claim:
• The ‘author’ of the claim (who is the original source of the
Who is making the claim?
Are there other parties who also make the claim?
Do they have 'authority' to make that claim?
Why are they making the claim? How does this fit with their ‘history’
and their ‘agenda’? (i.e. what else have they posted or discussed in the
What other stakeholders (or interested parties) might exist?
• The context of the claim (why is the misinformation/disinformation/fake news being shared):
• What is the issue at its core?
• What is the timeline of the claim (i.e. how/when did the claim come
about; what is the temporal/spatial context in which the claim was
• What continues to keep this claim in circulation? (i.e. why do people
know about it or talk about it)
• What are the implications of this claim being made? • How is the issue discussed
c. Fact Checking the case study:
• What evidence is provided to support the claim?
d. Challenging the narrative – countering the claim:
Using the library search engine (library.westernsydney.edu.au), what scholarly
resources can you find to factcheck the story? What do these sources suggest:
is the claim credible or not?
Is there other information on the internet that gives you evidence for or
against this claim? (be specific when you mention these in the assignment)
How do you think that we can convince the general public of the 'truth'? Why
is this important?
3. Drafting your Assignment: (note there is a difference between writing and drafting)
1. Your assignment should be written in 'essay-style'. In this task, you are to engage ‘formal
academic writing style’: your audience are other academics. It needs to have a formal
structure: a short introduction, a descriptive discussion of the case study, and an ‘extended
conclusion’ that offers suggestions for how we can address the problems identified in this
case study, and other similar ones. It is up to you whether you use sub- headings to structure
your work (these should not be excessive, as they eat into your word count). .
2. Short Introduction (approx. 100 words)
In this section you need to introduce the concepts of misinformation,
disinformation and fake news.
You should define each term in your own words (i.e. no direct quotes). You
must include a citation to at least one scholarly resource here: i.e. what you
read to develop your understanding/definition of the core concepts.
You should provide a statement about why these are problematic (generally).
This also needs to have a citation to a scholarly resource (it can be the same as
the one you used for the definition)
You should then identify what the case study is that you are discussing (but do
not go into any description of the case study).
3. Descriptive discussion of the case study (approx. 250 words)
n this section you need to present your analysis (completed above for point 2). You need to
combine your analysis into articulate, well-structured paragraphs. You cannot discuss
everything, so need to carefully construct your argument
You should probably aim to have 2-3 paragraphs. (the guidelines here are NOT strict – they
are merely guidance to those who have limited essay writing experience)
The first one would introduce the case study, and why it is an example of
misinformation. It would also be good to identify the “evidence” that it uses. It
would not be necessary to include a citation to a scholarly resource here, but if you
do use any resources to investigate or understand the topic, then you should
acknowledge all sources.
The second paragraph would discuss your analysis of the context of the claim. In
particular, we will be looking for your ability to situate the
misinformation/disinformation/fake news in its wider socio-political context.
Remember this assignment is interested in the impact of
misinformation/disinformation/fake news, and your case study is meant to be an
example of the wider concern with the impacts of misinformation/disinformation.
You need to cite at least one scholarly resource here.
The third paragraph would challenge the narrative. This is where you present the
evidence of your fact-checking, using evidence to counter the claim. It is very
important to cite at least one scholarly resource in support of this discussion.
d. Suggestions for addressing the problem (approx. 150 words)
This section functions like an extended conclusion. You need to think about
how this misinformation/disinformation/fake news narrative can be challenged. It is
important to include at least one citation to a scholarly resource in this section, and it is
likely that a very good answer would include more.
It is likely that you would remind us of why misinformation/disinformation/fake news are
problematic, and how your case study is an illustration of these. In doing this, you would
make suggestions of how specifically to challenge the misleading narrative around the issue
the case study represents.
Remember that your case study is meant to be an ‘example’ of a bigger problem, so you
would to emphasise to the reader your suggestions for challenging
misinformation/disinformation/fake news more generally here.
As this is a very short essay, and should be written with impact, do not end by sitting on the
fence: assert your argument, and ‘own’ the academic contribution and space you are
occupying with your assessment.
4. The final step is editing your work.
This assessment should be done with formal academic English. As communication is key part
of the unit’s mission statement, you will be assessed on your ability to communicate with in
a persuasive academic style.
This is very important: presenting a poorly written piece of writing lessens the power of your
A high grade assessment (Distinction/High Distinction) will be eloquent, with very few/no
grammatical or spelling errors. It is strongly advised that you make use of Studiosity and
Study Smart appointments, if you know that your writing is ‘weak’.
You should read through your work (out aloud is best) at least twice. Utilise the spelling and
grammar check functions in your word processing program.
Referencing (and citations):
Your assignment needs to have at least 3 unique scholarly resources (individual chapters
within a book or textbook do NOT count as unique scholarly resources). If you don’t meet
this minimum requirement, then you will automatically fail the assessment.
The reason that we set a minimum is to indicate to you the amount of background reading it
is expected you will need to do in order to structure a strong academic argument. If you
don’t read, then you will just be giving uninformed opinion (like the disinformation/fake
news you are critiquing).
You can use resources suggested/provided through vUWS, or you can find your own.
You are also encouraged to find additional resources to support your argument, and should
cite anything that influenced your understanding of the case study or the theoretical
There is no set referencing style, but rather an expectation that you will be consistent. Your
markers need to be able to identify: who wrote it (i.e. the author), when they wrote it, what
it is called, where it was published and/or where we can find it.
Teaching points to help you:
– Module 2 will introduce you to the key concepts for this task
– Tutorial 1 (weeks 2 or 3) will provide you with the critical analysis skills for this task.
– A ZOOM drop-in seminar in week 3 will be specifically devoted this assessment task.
– Students who are only entering their first year at WSU should try to attend the Mastery on
Mondays sessions that consider academic research and reading, writing and referencing.
Marking: This assignment is worth 20 marks. The marks are allocated:
2 marks for the pre-assessment quiz
3 marks for the introduction (including explanation of key concepts)
8 marks for your analysis of the case study
4 marks for your suggestions to address your case study and similar situations.
3 marks for communication skills appropriate to a formal academic piece of writing
Each section will be graded as either:
Unsatisfactory (not including the minimum referencing is the most common reason people
score this grade)
Satisfactory (if you follow the instructions you should be very confident of achieving this
Competent (it is expected that students who put time into preparing for the assessment and
effort into editing their work will be able to score this grade)
Competent+ (grades above a competent+ are rewarded based on the quality of the
discussion, such as the insights it offers)
• In keeping with the unit policy, you will receive the qualitative feedback on your assessment 48
hours before you receive the quantitative feedback (i.e. you grade/mark)
Examples to choose from: