Evaluating sources


Published on

Published in: Education
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Evaluating sources

  1. 1. Research and Evaluating Sources
  2. 2. Doing Research • We live in a world where a wealth of information is available to us, usually just a few clicks away. There is so much information out there, that it can be overwhelming to sort through it all and choose strong sources for an essay.
  3. 3. Questions to Ask • What kind of information are you looking for? • Do you want facts? Opinions? News reports? Research studies? Analyses? Personal reflections? History? • Where would be a likely place to look? • Which sources are likely to be most useful to you? Libraries? The Internet? Academic periodicals? Newspapers? Government records?
  4. 4. Some Examples • If, for example, you are searching for information on a current event, a reliable newspaper like the New York Times will be a useful source.
  5. 5. Some Examples • Are you searching for local history? Then a county library, government office, or local newspaper archive is likely to be the most useful.
  6. 6. Some Examples • Want to know about commercial products? Will those companies have websites with information? Or would it be better to look at a third party information about those products (like Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, etc.)?
  7. 7. Some Examples • Do you want some scholarly interpretations of literature? If so, academic journals and books are likely to have what you’re looking for.
  8. 8. Some Examples • Are you searching for statistics on some aspect of the U.S. population? Then, start with documents such as United States Census reports.
  9. 9. More Questions to Ask • How much information do you need? • How many sources of information are you looking for? • This is NOT just limited to how many sources your teacher tells you to use! • You may find that you need to use more. • It’s never a bad to do too much research! • What sources will give you both sides of an issue?
  10. 10. Types of Sources • Many students begin their research by doing a quick Google search. The Internet may be the most convenient place to begin your research, but it is not always the best. • Print Sources • Books • Novels, collections of shorter works (narratives, plays, poems, etc.) • Reference books • Books with editors • Books by organizations • Handbooks & Manuals • Journals • Newspapers • Magazines • Other documents: pamphlets, handouts, class notes, brochures, etc.
  11. 11. Print Sources • Books & Textbooks: Books come in a multitude of topics. Because of the time it takes to publish a book, they usually contain more dated information than will be found in journals and newspapers. • Newspapers: Predominately covering the latest events and trends, newspapers contain very up-to-date information. Newspapers report both information that is factual in nature and also share opinions. Generally, however, they will not take a “big picture” approach or contain information about larger trends.
  12. 12. Print Sources • Academic and Professional Journals: Academic and professional journals are where to find the most current research in industry, business, and academia. Journal articles come in several forms, including literature reviews, articles on theories and history, or articles on specific processes or research. • Government Reports and Legal Documents: The government releases information intended for its own use and for public use. These types of documents can be an excellent source of information. Most government reports and legal documents can now be accessed online.
  13. 13. Print Sources • Press Releases and Advertising: Companies and special interest groups produce texts to help persuade readers to act in some way or inform the public about some new development. • Flyers, Pamphlets, Leaflets: While some flyers or pamphlets are created by reputable sources, because of the ease in which they are created, many less-than-reputable sources also produce these. They are useful for quick reference or very general information. • Multimedia: Printed material is certainly not the only option for finding research. Also consider media sources such as radio and television broadcasts, interactive talks, and public meetings.
  14. 14. Types of Sources • Electronic Sources & Websites • Multimedia (audio recordings, films, etc.) • Websites • Commercial • Government (local, state, & national levels) • News • Books • Organizations • Blogs • Other Electronic Sources • Library Databases & Subscription Services • Academic Search Premier, PsychARTICLES, JSTOR, LexisNexis, etc.* • An excellent, convenient source of information for academic essays! Note: These often contain electronic copies of print materials. If there is a PDF file available of the source, always view the PDF version to view the page numbers of the article.
  15. 15. Electronic Sources • Websites: Most of the information on the Internet is distributed via websites. Websites vary widely in quality of information and validity of sources. • Blogs: A type of interactive journal where writers post and readers respond. They vary widely in quality of information and validity of sources. For example, many prestigious journalists and public figures may have blogs, which may be more credible of a blog than most. • Message boards, discussion lists, and chat rooms: Discussion lists, chat rooms, and message boards exist for all kinds of disciplines both in and outside of the university. However, plenty of boards exist that are rather unhelpful and poorly researched. • Multimedia: The Internet has a multitude of multimedia resources including online broadcasts and news, images, audio files, and interactive websites.
  16. 16. Original Research • Research isn't limited to published material that can be found on the Internet or at the library. Many topics you choose to write on may require a different kind of approach--collecting information directly and including interviews, observations, and surveys to support your ideas.
  17. 17. Original Research • Many different types of primary research exist. Some common ones used for writing classes include: Interviews: A conversation between two or more people in which one person (the interviewer) asks a series of questions to another person or persons (the interviewee). Surveys & Questionnaires: A process of gathering specific information from people in a systematic way with a set series of questions. Survey questions usually have pre-specified or short responses. Observations: Careful viewing and documenting of the world around you.
  18. 18. Original Research Example Brianne wants to research a proposed smoking ban in public establishments in Lafayette, Indiana. She begins by going to the library and then searching online. She finds information related to smoking bans in other cities around the United States, but only a few limited articles from the local newspaper on the ban proposed in Lafayette. To supplement this information, she decides to survey twenty local residents to learn what they think of the proposed smoking ban. She also decides to interview two local business owners to learn how they think the ban may affect their businesses. Finally, she goes and observes a town hall meeting where the potential ban is discussed.
  19. 19. Evaluating Sources • It is extremely important to evaluate the quality of the sources you use! • This means that you need to make sure the information in that source is credible and reliable. • To do this, you will need to look at each of your sources carefully to make sure it’s appropriate. • The quality of your writing is only as good as the quality of the sources you use!
  20. 20. Evaluating Sources • Here are some things to check for in a source: • Check for signs of bias • Does the author or publisher endorse political or religious views that could affect objectivity? • Is the author or publisher associated with a special-interest group (such as Greenpeace or the NRA) that might present only one side of an issue? • Are alternative views presented and addressed? How fairly does the author treat opposing views? • Does the author’s language show signs of bias? • Is the language emotionally charged?
  21. 21. Evaluating Sources • Assess arguments • What is the author’s main argument? • How does the author support this claim • with ample facts and statistics? • with anecdotes? • with overly emotional examples? • Is the information consistent with other sources? Has it been used fairly? • Does the author note where facts and statistics come from? • Does the author consider opposing arguments and refute them fairly?
  22. 22. Evaluating Web Sources • Web sources are especially important to evaluate because anyone can create a website. • Look for an author. • Is there an author? You may need to do some clicking and scrolling to find the author’s name (look at the top and bottom of the page. Sometimes, it’s on a different page entirely). • If there is an author, can you tell whether he/she is knowledgeable and credible? When the author’s qualifications aren’t listed on the site itself, you may have to do some digging to find out more about that person.
  23. 23. Evaluating Web Sources • Sponsorship • Who, if anyone, sponsors the website? You can usually find this information at the bottom of the home page. • What does the URL tell you? The domain name extension often indicates the type of group hosting the site.
  24. 24. Meaning of URLs
  25. 25. Evaluating Web Sources • Purpose and audience • Why was the website created? • To sell a product? • To inform readers? • To argue a position? • Who is the intended audience? • Is that audience appropriate for your purposes? • For example, you wouldn’t want to use a educational website meant for children when you are writing an essay for college about American government for your political science class.
  26. 26. Evaluating Web Sources • Currency • How current is the website? Check for the date of publication or the latest update, often located at the bottom of the home page or at the beginning or end of a page. • How current are the links? If many of the links no longer work, the site may be too dated for your purposes.
  27. 27. Works Cited • Hacker, Diana, and Barbara Fister. “Tips for Evaluating Sources.” Research and Documentation Online. Bedford St. Martin’s. n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2013. • “Research Overview.” Purdue Owl. 2011. Web. 1. Nov. 2011.