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Identifying, Evaluating, & Using Sources . Or: But Wikipedia is Cool!!!. Why Do We Use Sources in Academic Writing?. The Myth of No Bias: or Bill O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” is Patently Ridiculous. Bias-

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Identifying, Evaluating, & Using Sources

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Identifying evaluating using sources

Identifying, Evaluating, & Using Sources

Or: But Wikipedia is Cool!!!

Why do we use sources in academic writing

Why Do We Use Sourcesin Academic Writing?

The myth of no bias or bill o reilly s no spin zone is patently ridiculous

The Myth of No Bias: or Bill O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” is Patently Ridiculous

  • Bias-

    “an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives.”

Is it possible to be unbiased in any speech or writing act

Is it Possible to be “Unbiased” in any Speech or Writing Act?

There is no pure giving of information

There is no pure giving of information

  • The order of news stories shows a choice being made about what is most important

  • The amount of print space given to a story reflects a bias towards its importance (and placement on page in a newspaper)

  • Tone of voice, appearance, context can alter even the most seemingly neutral/unbiased giving of information.

And more


  • Every news outlet is owned by some corporation. GE owns NBC. Do you think reporting about energy issues is unbiased on NBC?

  • Magazines have to sell to stay in business- does unbiasedness sell in today’s gossip focused, conflict obsessed world?

From unbiased to critically informed

From Unbiased to Critically Informed

  • Instead of looking for mythical “unbiased” sources, learn to look critically upon the sources you have.

  • As for your own papers- of course you’re biased! You’re making an argument for your position! But that position can be informed, self-critiqued, and aware of alternate view points

Popular versus scholarly

Popular Versus Scholarly

  • Popular

    • USA Today, New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Newsweek, Time, etc.

      • General Audience

      • Often utilize national polls

      • Broad overviews with limited (or little) in-depth analysis

Popular versus scholarly1

Popular Versus Scholarly

  • Scholarly

    • CCCC, JAC, College English, Rhetoric Review, Kairos (in my field)

      • “Experts” in the field of study review and approve the article before it can be published

      • Authors are mostly PhDs (or soon-to-bes) in the field

      • In depth exploration, analysis, and argumentation

Scholarly sources

Scholarly Sources

  • Found through library databases

  • Not automatically reliable; however, you can rest assured the sources has been given a stamp of approval by someone knowledgeable.

  • So the real work is figuring out if its helpful for your argument.

Identifying evaluating using sources

Into the Interwebs! The Wild, Untamed Frontier of Open Access to Information and Potential Unreliability!!!!

But it really kinda is

But it Really Kinda Is!

  • Studies have found it nearly as reliable as the Encyclopedia Britannica (Nature Journal, 2005)

  • Inaccuracies are caught and corrected within an average of six hours (Shirky, Here Comes Everyone, 2009)

  • The Guardian (2005) had a panel of experts review the site: they concluded “Factually sound and correct, no glaring inaccuracies” and “Much useful information, including well selected links, making it possible to access much information quickly"

Identifying evaluating using sources

Why (despite what you’ve probably been told) is it so accurate?Why then is it not considered a good source for academic writing?Do you know how to really use its deep functionality?

Yay anybody can have a page on the internet omg no anybody can have a page on the internet

Yay, Anybody Can Have a Page on the Internet!!!OMG No, Anybody Can Have a Page on the Internet!!!

What techniques do you already know use for accessing the reliability of a webpage

What techniques do you already know/use for accessing the reliability of a webpage?

Identifying evaluating using sources

  • Domain names (but be careful!)

  • Currency of Site/Last Update

  • Site Authors

  • Where does it link to?/Who Links to it? (

  • Quality of page design

  • Purpose (inform, sell a product, advocacy, entertainment)

  • Accessibility

How does google work

How Does Google Work?

Popularity engine

Popularity Engine

  • Google works off a link hierarchy. In essence, this means that sites will have a higher Google ranking based on how many other sites link to it.

  • So if you only use the top Google hits when searching, you’re really only finding the popular stuff. Which begs the question, is popular necessarily better?

Identifying evaluating using sources

  • Choose one of the topics below. Find 3 websites related to it:

  • 1 clearly pro

  • 1 clearly anti

  • 1 fairly neutral

  • Then check each site for the following and make a quick note about what it tells you:

  • Domain name (try not to pick all 3 .coms)

  • Currency

  • Authors/Owners (may require research)

  • Purpose

  • Popularity (use

  • Topics:

  • Abortion

  • Legalizing Marijuana

  • School Uniforms (you’ll want to search “school uniforms law”

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