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Evaluating Resources

Postby Soulerous » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:43 pm

This information is largely obvious, but as part of the class I'm taking, I am supposed to share part of my lessons with others and report on it. This week I thought I'd share with you. If any of you could read the underlying and leave some sort of feedback, ideally with some added thoughts or insights, I would appreciate it. This has to do with determining which resources are sufficiently credible for research purposes.

Firstly, there are several criteria that should be taken into account regardless of what type of source is being evaluated:
• Determine who the author of the information is, and their credentials. Why are they qualified to write or speak on the subject?
• Determine the intended audience of the information. Presentations aimed at other scholars or professionals will probably have more depth and quality of detail than those aimed at highschoolers.
• Make sure the information is up to date. Some topics have constantly updating information; for other topics, such as World War I, an older source will be just as reliable as a newer one.
• Make sure any sources cited by the author are also credible according to these same standards.

There are some additional criteria to consider for specific types of resources.
• When evaluating articles, you should never use reviews or summaries because these are second-hand accounts of the original work. Instead, use the original, complete work so that the full context can be seen as the author wanted, without misrepresentation.
• Peer-reviewed articles go through an extensive reviewing process before being published and are always suitable for use in research projects.
• Editorial (opinion) articles and those from magazines and newspapers may or may not be useful depending on the nature of your research topic.
• When evaluating books, it can sometimes be useful to learn about their publisher.
• When evaluating a website for use, learn about the sponsor. Who is responsible for the website's information? Are they known for being biased or unbiased? If a source is biased that doesn't necessarily mean it shouldn't be used, but you may need to find another opinion in order to present an even and responsible view of the topic.
• Web addresses/URLs can give clues about the nature of the site. Sites that end with '.edu' are from academic institutions while those that end with '.gov' are governmental agencies. This doesn't automatically qualify the information as reliable because sometimes individuals are given space for personal use, but it's typically a good indicator nonetheless.
• If necessary, look for contact information for the site's author, which will allow you to ask questions about the organization or the author's qualifications.
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