Evaluating sources of information


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Evaluating sources of information

  1. 1. Evaluating Sources of Information Conducting Quality Research for Academic Writing
  2. 2. Types of Sources • Primary Sources—original or firsthand materials • Works by an original author: essays, poems, plays, artwork, novels, autobiographies, speeches, e-mails, blogs (when the person is blogging about himself/herself) • Original research: surveys, studies, case studies, interviews • First-person accounts of events
  3. 3. Types of Sources • Secondary Sources—secondhand accounts, information, or reports about primary sources written or delivered by people who were not direct participants in events or issues being examined • News articles • Reviews • Biographies • Documentaries • Encyclopedia entries • Interpretations of works
  4. 4. Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources • Primary sources • Often more accurate because they have not been distorted • Not always a better choice than secondary sources • May be still be biased (because they are limited in perspective) • May be difficult to access • May not always be appropriate for all topics
  5. 5. Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources • Secondary sources • May be biased, inaccurate, or incomplete • Because they are interpretations of events or other works • The person who created the text doesn’t have direct, first hand experience with the topic • Easier to find and access • There are tons of secondary sources • They’re easy to find • May be more suitable for certain topics
  6. 6. Conducting Research • 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.
  7. 7. Conducting Research • Non-print sources • Library Databases • Academic Search Premier • PsychARTICLES • JSTOR • LexisNexis *Note: These are often 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.
  8. 8. Conducting Research • Websites* • Government (local, state, & national levels) • News • Books • Organizations • Blogs, newsgroups, listervs, etc. *It is helpful to look at the end of the URL (the domain extension), specifically the domain, of a website when determining what kind of website you are looking at and how credible it is.
  9. 9. Breakdown of the URL The main part of the website  As you go deeper into the website, this takes you to individual web pages or files. There’s no reason to look at this part.
  10. 10. Common Domain Extensions .com A commercial web site. Companies or profitable organizations have this type of URL. .net Internet Service Providers have this ending to their URL. .edu Educational Organizations such as schools or colleges have this ending to their URL. .org Nonprofit organizations have this ending to their URL. .gov Government organizations have this ending. .us, .jp, .uk and other country codes. These are special URLs which refer to the country of where the web site is coming from
  11. 11. Conducting Research • Original Research • Interviews • Avoid asking questions that have simple yes/no answers • Ask questions that begin with who, what, where, when, why, or how • Take notes or record the interview • Surveys • Who will you survey? • How many people will you survey? • Larger groups yield more accurate/credible responses • Decide how to construct the survey • open ended questions or multiple choice?
  12. 12. Evaluation • It is extremely important to evaluate the quality of the sources you use! • The quality of your writing is only as good as the quality of the sources you use • Evaluate the sources themselves • Evaluate the content in those sources
  13. 13. Evaluating Sources • Things to look for: • Publication Process • Publication Information • Authorship & Affiliations • Author Qualifications & Credentials • Sources • Audience • Bias
  14. 14. Considerations When Evaluating Sources • Publication process • Has the source been reviewed or edited by others? • Is the source current? Is it outdated? • Is the source a revision of an earlier edition? • Publication Information • Does the sources clearly indicate publication, publisher, author, editor, date written/uploaded, etc.?
  15. 15. Considerations When Evaluating Sources • Authorship & Affiliations • Does the source clearly indicate what organization the author is affiliated with? • Author Qualifications & Credentials • What is the author’s background? • How do you know the author is credible/reliable? • How do you know the author has authority on the subject?
  16. 16. Considerations When Evaluating Sources • Sources • Are external sources references and/or cited? • Audience • Who is the intended audience of the source? Is that audience appropriate for your purposes?
  17. 17. Considerations When Evaluating Sources • Bias • Is there any possibility for bias? • Any underlying agendas? • What information was not considered or included in the source?
  18. 18. Evaluating Content • You should also do more than just evaluate the source • You should evaluate the content within that source as well: • Accuracy • Comprehensiveness • Credibility • Fairness • Objectivity • Relevance • Timeliness
  19. 19. Evaluating Content •Accuracy • How do you know the facts are accurate? • Do the facts match with other material you have read? • How was the data/information collected? • Were there any flaws in the way the data/information was collected?
  20. 20. Evaluating Content •Comprehensiveness • How thoroughly was the topic covered? • Was one aspect of the topic covered more than other aspects? • Was the topic considered from multiple perspectives?
  21. 21. Evaluating Content • Credibility • Is the source material reliable and credible? • Has the source been reviewed and/or facts been checked? • Is the author an expert/authority? • What are the author’s credentials?
  22. 22. Evaluating Content • Fairness • Does the author take a particular stance on the issue/topic? • Are differing perspectives offered? • How are the different perspectives presented? • Fairly? Irrational? Wrong? • Are any perspectives not included that possibly should have been?
  23. 23. Evaluating Content • Objectivity • What language does the author use? Objective? Emotional? • What other perspectives are offered? • How are those other perspectives presented? • The images below are not objective.
  24. 24. Evaluating Content • Relevance • How closely is the source related to your topic? • Directly related? Slightly related? Generally? Specifically? • How much emphasis will you give it in your essay? • Directly related sources should be given more weight in your essay than less related ones.
  25. 25. Evaluating Content • Timeliness • Is the information current? • How necessary is timeliness to your topic? • *NOTE: Sometimes the topic you choose affects the timeliness of the sources you use. • Example: An essay on the relationship between student diversity and educational achievement might include some dated material as well as current material. To describe the background of student diversity, you may cite Brown v. Board of Education, a source from 1954, and in describing the relationship between student diversity and achievement, you will use the most current research possible.
  26. 26. Helpful Resources • Identifying an Authoritative Website • http://www.library.illinois.edu/ugl/howdoi/webeval.html • Purdue OWL—Evaluating sources • http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/553/1/ • Cornell University Library—Evaluating sources • http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/ref/research/evaluate.html • OTC Library—Helpful resources by areas of study • http://www.otc.edu/library/1649.php