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Why Evaluate Sources and Information
If you want a good grade, use high quality, credible, and authoritative sources. The sources you select for your works cited or reference page is a direct reflection of the quality of your paper. You cannot expect to get a good grade if you use Wikipedia, random websites, and opinion blogs. The World Wide Web can be a great place to accomplish research on many topics. But putting documents or pages on the web is easy, cheap or free, unregulated, and unmonitored. You need to evaluate the sources you use. Think of it this way, if you wanted to decide which Smartphone to purchase, would you use a random blog, the manufacturer's website, or Consumer Reports?
- A blog would give you someone's opinion. The information would not be researched.
- The manufacturer's website might offer factual information about the phone's features, but it may post only positive reviews.
- Consumer Reports conducts research on products and then presents the results.
When making a decision that will cost you money, you would probably use Consumer Reports to get the best information to back up your decision. When writing a research paper you want to use the best sources because using anything less could cost you your grade!
Quick Guide: Evaluating
When you encounter any kind of source, consider:
- Authority - Who is the author? What is their point of view?
- Purpose - Why was the source created? Who is the intended audience?
- Publication & format - Where was it published? In what medium?
- Relevance - How is it relevant to your research? What is its scope?
- Date of publication - When was it written? Has it been updated?
- Documentation - Did they cite their sources? Who did they cite?
Good research habits include identifying sources, assessing their expertise and verifying information found. So how do you decide if the information is true? This site from Justia Virtual Chase will help.
Bias in Sources
Be a smart information consumer. Learn to read between the lines and identify bias.
How to Detect Bias (21st Century Information Fluency: Brief guide to help you recognize the signs of bias.)
Practice! Practice! Practice!