Kent Ridge Secondary School
Secondary 3 Social Studies
Source-based Question Skills: Reliability
Name: ________________________ Class: ___________ Date: _______________
What is reliability?
- how believable or trustable something is.
- E.g. “The world is square.” How believable is this? Why or why not?
Why do we need to know if a source is believable?
- this determines if the source can be used or not, in our arguments! [especially
when we have to prove an opinion.]
HOW TO CHECK FOR RELIABILITY?
Step 1: Check your provenance
- Who wrote this source?
- Is it possible that this person has a PURPOSE in writing this source? If this is so,
then this source MAY be bias and unreliable.
Step 2: Read your source
- Does the source have FACTS or just OPINIONS?
o Facts: A truth that can be measured or checked.
E.g. Singapore became independent in 1965. [There is no way that
this can be changed.]
o Opinions: A person’s own judgment or perspectives about something OR
general statements and ideas that may or may not be true.
E.g. I think Social Studies is the best subject ever. [This
perspective will be different for different people. It cannot be
E.g. Singaporeans generally are interested in YOG.
o If the source is supported by FACTS, then it is quite reliable. But is this
all you need to check?
o If the source has ONLY opinions, then we need double check. How?
- Does the source show only ONE perspective or does it show BOTH
perspectives on the issue?
o If the source shows only ONE side, then the source can possibly by BIAS.
o If the source shows TWO or more perspectives, then it is a BALANCED
and FAIR source. The author is willing to consider different perspectives
about the issue.
- Is there a PURPOSE?
o Is the source trying to INFLUENCE the readers to a particular opinion?
o Are there hidden meanings?
o Is there ANY possible reasons that the writer can choose to be bias?
o Who is the author writing this to? What is the message that the
author is trying to say? What is the aim of the message?
ALWAYS answer these 3 questions if you realize that there’s a
PURPOSE that the author has.
Step 3: Typicality
- Is the information from the source typical and common of what you know about
o E.g. Student A says that studying is most fun for students.
Issue: studying is fun for students
Is this a fact or opinion? _______________
Is this opinion common and typical for students?
Would this source be considered MORE reliable or LESS reliable?
Step 4: Cross-referencing
- Doublecheck the source with OTHER sources in the SBQ.
- Look for ONE or TWO other sources that talk about the SAME ISSUE as the
source you are checking about.
- What do the OTHER sources say?
o Do the other source SUPPORT what this source says?
o Do the other source DISAGREE with what this source says?
o How many sources AGREE or DISAGREE with what this source says?
- If OTHER sources support this source, then this source is MOST LIKELY reliable.
If not, then it is NOT.
Step 5: Evaluate and decide if the source is reliable or unreliable.
- Is it TOTALLY reliable or TOTALLY unreliable?
- Is it reliable to SOME extent?
How do you answer a question on reliability?
Qn: How reliable is source A? How to score well for such
Point: Source A is ______________. (to get high levels and
Is Source A reliable or more marks)
ALWAYS explain and
How do you know that support your answer using
Source A is reliable or
not? - Source content (if
you think that the
Did you get this author has a
information from… purpose, then write
I know this because the it down!)
1) Provenance provenance from Source A tells AND
- who is the author? me who the author is. The - Cross-reference
- Can the author be author is ___________. This
biased? means that (you explanation
2) Source content I know this because the source
- Facts versus content tells me so. (Continue
Opinions with explanation and quotes
- How many from the source).
there in the source
- Is this source
3) Cross-referencing I know this because Source B/C/
- What do the D supports/does not support
OTHER sources say Source A. Source A says
about this issue? ______________ about this
- Which source is issue. (However,) Source B/C/D
more believable? says __________________.