Evaluating Information

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Evaluating Information

  1. 1. Evaluating Information Tomado de Teaching and Marketing Electronic Information Programs , 2003 . Doanld A. Barclay Shades of Gray
  2. 2. Evaluating Information <ul><li>The average person is bombarded with information, much of it unreliable. </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation requires both knowledge of information and critical-thinking abilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Possibly the most important skill a citizen of the Information Age can possess. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Scholarly Information <ul><li>A highly credible type of information. </li></ul><ul><li>Students often required to use scholarly information for research papers and projects. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing how to identify scholarly information is an important skill. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Author </li></ul><ul><li>Holds advanced degree in subject written about. </li></ul><ul><li>Often professors. </li></ul><ul><li>Pairs or teams of researchers often collaborate to write a single article, chapter, book, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Author </li></ul><ul><li>May be journalist, professional writer, or amateur. </li></ul><ul><li>May have a lot of knowledge of subject written about—or next to none. </li></ul>Scholarly Non Scholarly
  5. 5. <ul><li>Research Methods </li></ul><ul><li>Writings based on original research conducted by the author(s). </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct a literature review prior to research. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethically obligated to follow certain standards for impartial research. </li></ul><ul><li>Research Methods </li></ul><ul><li>Non-scholarly authors rarely conduct original research. </li></ul><ul><li>Research based on readings, interviews, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Quality and impartiality of research entirely dependent on the author </li></ul>Scholarly Non Scholarly
  6. 6. <ul><li>Peer Review </li></ul><ul><li>Panel of scholars decides if information should be published. </li></ul><ul><li>Peer review may be blind. </li></ul><ul><li>Also known as “refereeing” or “refereed journal.” </li></ul><ul><li>Peer Review </li></ul><ul><li>No peer review. </li></ul><ul><li>Decision to publish typically resides with editors. </li></ul><ul><li>On Web, in particular, decision to publish may reside with author alone. </li></ul>Scholarly Non Scholarly
  7. 7. <ul><li>Objectivity </li></ul><ul><li>By and large, the most objective type of information. </li></ul><ul><li>However, scholars are human: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mistakes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biases. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal rivalries. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dishonesty. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Objectivity </li></ul><ul><li>Objectivity is entirely dependent on the author. </li></ul><ul><li>Can be objective, biased, or anywhere in between. </li></ul>Scholarly Non Scholarly
  8. 8. <ul><li>Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Other scholars. </li></ul><ul><li>Assumes readers have a high level of knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Scholarly information may be unintelligible to the layperson. </li></ul><ul><li>Audience </li></ul><ul><li>May be broad or specialized. </li></ul><ul><li>Time magazine—seeks a broad audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Fly Fishing & Fly Tying —seeks a specialized (but non-scholarly) audience. </li></ul>Scholarly Non Scholarly
  9. 9. <ul><li>Important Formats </li></ul><ul><li>Articles published in peer-reviewed (aka “refereed”) scholarly journals </li></ul><ul><li>Scholarly books </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Books by a single author. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Books with chapters by different scholars. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Important Formats </li></ul><ul><li>Anything and everything </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Magazines. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Newspapers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Books. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comic books. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal Web sites. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Videos. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Etc., etc. </li></ul></ul>Scholarly Non Scholarly
  10. 10. <ul><li>Publishers </li></ul><ul><li>Typically nonprofit, but can be for profit. </li></ul><ul><li>Often associated with learned societies or universities. </li></ul><ul><li>Market publications to scholars and academic libraries. </li></ul><ul><li>Publishers </li></ul><ul><li>Typically for profit, but can be nonprofit. </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial potential of a publication is often, though not always, the most important consideration. </li></ul>Scholarly Non Scholarly
  11. 11. <ul><li>Rewards </li></ul><ul><li>Promotion and tenure. </li></ul><ul><li>Respect of peers. </li></ul><ul><li>Satisfaction of contributing new knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Scholarly publications rarely earn much, if any, money for author. </li></ul><ul><li>Rewards </li></ul><ul><li>Money. </li></ul><ul><li>Prestige. </li></ul><ul><li>Personal satisfaction. </li></ul>Scholarly Non Scholarly
  12. 12. Scholar reads journal article. Gets idea for conducting original research. Scholar conducts a literature review. Scholar forms a hypothesis, develops a research methodology, and conducts research. Scholar writes up results of research as an article. Scholar submits manuscript of article to editor of scholarly journal. Editor sends copies of manuscript to peer reviewers. Peer reviewers recommend publication upon revision. Editor sends manuscript to scholar with peer reviewers’ anonymous comments. Scholar revises manuscript and re-submits to editor. Revised manuscript is accepted and (eventually) published in the journal. The Scholarly Publication Process
  13. 13. Scholarly Journals Versus Popular Magazines <ul><li>Scholarly journals and popular magazines have superficial resemblances. </li></ul><ul><li>Scholarly journals present research findings. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intended audience is scholars. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Magazines present news, information, opinion, and entertainment. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intended audience is general public. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Identifying Scholarly Journals <ul><li>Scholarly journals often have the word journal in the title. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But Ladies Home Journal is a magazine. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other common title phrases for journals include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>proceedings of </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>transactions of </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>publication of </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>bulletin of </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Identifying Scholarly Journals <ul><li>If cover or title page indicates affiliation with a learned society or association, it is probably a scholarly journal . </li></ul>Athletic Physical Therapy Publication of the Canadian Association of Sports Physical Therapists
  16. 16. Identifying Scholarly Journals <ul><li>Scholarly journals focus on a single, often very narrow subject area. </li></ul><ul><li>Other than ads for scholarly books, most do not contain advertisements . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are exceptions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: Scholarly medical journals often carry advertisements for prescription drugs. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Identifying Scholarly Journals <ul><li>As a rule, scholarly journals look very plain compared to popular magazines </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of text, not a lot of images, not a lot of color. </li></ul><ul><li>There are exceptions to this rule. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: Scholarly art journals have many color images. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Identifying Scholarly Journals <ul><li>Most articles in scholarly journals have footnotes and/or bibliographies. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scholarly authors always cite the sources they use in their research. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most scholarly journals will have an “Instruction to Authors” section. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These give authors the procedure for submitting manuscripts for publication. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instructions may not appear in every issue. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Is print information always more credible than Web Information? <ul><li>No. You can find good and bad information in print just as you can on the Web. </li></ul><ul><li>Some Web information is the exact equivalent of print information. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: A journal publishes an identical article both in print and on its Web site. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some Web sites impose exacting quality-control standards. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Peer review, careful editing, fact checking. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Logical Fallacies <ul><li>Arguments may sound reasonable but, on examination, are not. </li></ul><ul><li>Used to mislead readers and listeners. </li></ul><ul><li>Information sources that employ logical fallacies are worthy of suspicion. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of some of the more common logical fallacies include . . . </li></ul>
  21. 21. Authority Fallacies <ul><li>Findings based on a single authority. </li></ul><ul><li>Citing anonymous authority or authorities. “All the leading experts agree . . .” </li></ul><ul><li>Citing an authority who is not really an expert on the subject in question. </li></ul><ul><li>Failing to acknowledge that there is a significant amount of disagreement among equally qualified experts on the topic. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Fallacy: Findings Based on Anecdotal Evidence or Small Samples <ul><li>A woman in Wisconsin ate strawberries and recovered from breast cancer. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If this is true, were strawberries the reason she recovered? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will strawberries have the same effect on others? </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Fallacy: Incomplete Information <ul><li>A woman in Wisconsin ate strawberries and recovered from breast cancer. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>True. But she also underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the same time she was eating all those strawberries. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Fallacy: Selective Bibliography <ul><li>I can cite two studies that show strawberries cure cancer. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But I am not going to cite the seventy-five studies that show strawberries have no effect at all. </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Fallacy: Personal Attacks or Prejudicial Language <ul><li>One of the biggest critics of strawberry therapy is Dr. Green, a “so-called expert” who has been censured for sexual harassment in the workplace. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dr. Green’s personal behavior, however bad, has nothing to do with his criticism of strawberry therapy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Labeling Dr. Green as a “so-called expert” without any support for this charge is prejudicial language. </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Fallacy: Flat-Line Projections <ul><li>If trends continue, every woman in the country will eventually fall victim to breast cancer. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is raining right now. If trends continue, it will never stop raining. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flat-line projections are just one of many ways to misrepresent statistical data. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The more astounding the statistic, the more skeptical you should be. </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Fallacy: No Areas of Uncertainty <ul><li>Strawberries cure breast cancer 100% of the time in 100% of patients. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nothing is that certain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Even when the percentage is lowered to 99.something , nothing is that certain. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Fallacy: False Dilemma <ul><li>Either eat strawberries or die of cancer. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>False dilemmas present only two options when their may be many: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Eat strawberries and still die of cancer. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t eat strawberries, get cancer, and be cured by some other means. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Get run over by an ice-cream truck whether you eat strawberries or not. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Fallacy: Arguments from Ignorance <ul><li>If science cannot prove that strawberries do not cure breast cancer, that proves they do. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Failing to prove that Santa Claus does not exist does not prove that he does. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Failing to prove that UFOs are not real does not prove that they are. </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Fallacy: Faulty If/Then Reasoning <ul><li>If you don’t eat strawberries, then your body will lack proper nutrients. </li></ul><ul><li>If you lack proper nutrients, then your immune system will be suppressed. </li></ul><ul><li>If your immune system is suppressed, then you are more susceptible to illness. </li></ul><ul><li>If you are susceptible to illness, then you are more likely to die of breast cancer. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beware of slippery slopes created by chaining together if/then statements. </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Casual Fallacies <ul><li>As strawberry consumption has declined, breast-cancer rates have increased. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Even if true, the fact that one thing happened first is not proof that it caused the later thing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disco dancing became popular in the early 1970s, and so in 1978 the Yankees won their second consecutive World Series. </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Other Casual Fallacies: <ul><li>Complex-cause fallacy: Poor nutrition causes cancer . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nutrition is one of many things that are known to contribute to cancer. The causes of cancer are complex, not simple. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wrong-direction fallacy: Crime went up on 12 th Street as gun ownership went up. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In the case of 12 th Street, crime went up first. Gun ownership went up in response to crime. </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Fallacy: Unrelated Points <ul><li>If you believe that a proper diet is important to good health, then you must accept the fact that strawberries cure breast cancer. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Such a statement makes it seem as if you must accept both points if you accept either. In fact, you can accept one while rejecting the other. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Primary Versus Secondary Sources of Information <ul><li>Primary information is an account or record of events in which the author was an actual participant or firsthand observer. </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary information is an account or record of events created some time after the events took place, typically by an author who was not a direct participant or observer. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Primary/Secondary Example <ul><li>Primary : </li></ul><ul><li>A group of cancer researchers at UCLA Medical Center keep detailed records of a clinical trial they are conducting on a promising new cancer medicine. </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary : </li></ul><ul><li>The Los Angeles Times runs a news article telling how a group of cancer researchers at UCLA Medical Center are conducting a clinical trial of a new cancer medicine. </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>Letters. </li></ul><ul><li>Diaries. </li></ul><ul><li>A researcher’s laboratory or field notes. </li></ul><ul><li>Collections of data. </li></ul><ul><li>Government records. </li></ul><ul><li>Speeches. </li></ul><ul><li>Photographs. </li></ul><ul><li>Most periodical articles and books about past events. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on primary sources and secondary sources. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Textbooks and encyclopedias. </li></ul><ul><li>Anything one step removed from the events it describes. </li></ul>Typical primary sources include: Typical secondary sources include:
  37. 37. A Source May Be Both Primary And Secondary <ul><ul><li>A Los Angeles Times article about the 9/11/01 World Trade Center attacks is a secondary source for most purposes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>However, it is a primary source to a researcher studying media responses to the attacks. </li></ul></ul>

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