Evaluating sources of information


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  • I used this years ago in my seventh grade language arts before I taught a unit on research.
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  • Key Concepts: After you identify the type of web site you are viewing, you must next assess it for credibility . Information in the web site depends in large part upon the author; unfortunately, the author’s name may not be clearly listed on the web site. If the author’s name is listed, credentials may not be provided. Furthermore, because web sites do not need to be fact checked to be published, we cannot necessarily rely upon the publisher to be honest. Key Concepts: Again, asking yourself a list of questions is the best way to determine the credibility of the web site. Is the author listed? Credentials? If you can find the author’s name, try typing it into a search engine to see what else pops up. Is the author affiliated with a political group or a business? If so, try typing the name of the group into a search engine to see what else pops up.
  • : Some information in the web address itself can clue you in to the type of web page you are viewing. The facilitator may choose to ask students what the five examples at the bottom of the slide indicate. A non-profit organization is indicated by .org. Government branches are indicated by .gov. Business sites are usually indicated by .com or .net. Educational institutions are indicated by .edu, but any student using a university web server will also have an .edu address. Official United States’ sites are indicated by .us. Sites published in the British Isles are designated .uk, while .au indicates Australian sites.
  • Key Concepts: This slide provides additional questions to test the credibility of a web page. A list of sources indicates the inclusion of source material in the web content, but it is a good idea to check out some of the sources as well. Sources listed on the Works Cited page may also prove useful to the researcher. Does the web site link to other related sites? If the linked sites are not very reliable, you may question the credibility level of the author’s own site--such links show poor judgment. Also, can the author or webmaster be contacted? If so, they may be willing to answer questions about their web site or even consent to an e-mail interview!
  • Key Concepts: This slide again offers a list of questions that students should ask when they review web sites for their depth and scope of information. Also, students need to allow themselves enough time to research their work. Encourage them not to just use information from the first five web sites they locate--they should find the five best web sites on their topics. Activity: The facilitator may ask students why the consideration of opposing points of view is important in a well-researched web site. The presence of opposing viewpoints suggest that the author has carefully considered multiple viewpoints about an issue and has come to an educated conclusion about the issue.
  • Key Concepts: Though information on web sites may be credible, it may not be current. The date of the material may be completely omitted from the web site. To be sure you are covering all of the recent changes in the field or topic you are studying, be sure to assess the currency of your information. This is not always an easy task.
  • Evaluating sources of information

    1. 1. Evaluating Sources of Information How to find the most reliableinformation for your research report
    2. 2. Questions to ask beforedetermining the value of a source1. Is the source an expert?2. Is the source biased?3. Is the website address reliable?4. Is the information complete?5. Is the information correct?6. Is the information current?
    3. 3. Is the source an expert?Author should have authority or expertise • Degrees • Certifications • Experience • Recommendations from other professionals for the author
    4. 4. Is the source biased? Does the source have certain preferences or biases? Ways to tell: – Was the author funded through a politician or business? – Does the author belong to a certain organization with an agenda? – Does the author have something to gain by providing the viewpoint he is representing?
    5. 5. Is the website reliable  Pick the most credible websites. Look at the last three letters before the first backslash. More reliable: .mil .gov .edu .org – maybe Less reliable: .com .net
    6. 6. Is the information complete? All sides of issue are represented Material shows research was done and refers to other sources
    7. 7. Is the information correct and appropriate? Be sure to check and recheck your source with other sources – Even if you have your note card on that topic finished, be sure to check it with other sources If you find inappropriate things (flashing lights, animations, misspellings, grammatical errors, you have found an amateur website!
    8. 8. Is the information current? Depending on your topic, be sure the information is current: – For this project: not more than ten years old – You will need to check the copyright date
    9. 9. Summary – Keys to evaluating sourcesThe source should be: • An expert • Not biased – should be impartial • Be on a website with a reliable last three lettersThe information should be: 1. Complete 2. Correct 3. Current