Credible Sources The C.A.R.S. Model
The Internet Situation… A wide range of materials are readily available. • Anyone can post! no one approves content before it is made public • The searcher must evaluate what has been located
Not All Information is Equal Information Exists on a Continuum of Reliability and Quality What is Presented:Facts, Statistics, Opinions, Stories, Interpretations… Purposes of Information:Inform, Persuade, Sell, Present a Viewpoint, Create or Change a Viewpoint or Belief Internet Information Ranges from Very Good to Very Bad and Every Shade In Between
Pre-Evaluation “What source or kind of source would be the most credible?” Look for: Fair, Objective, Lacking Hidden Motives, Showing Quality Control Don’t Overlook: Prevent bias for looking at sources that agree AND disagree with your point of view. Be Open-Minded: Though it’s good to have a sense of where you’re going, be open to opposing ideas Just because a source doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make it unreliable!
What to Look For… • Pick sources that offer as much of the following information as possible: Author’s Name Author’s Title or Position Author’s Organizational Affiliation Date of Page Creation or Version Author’s Contact Information
Information is Power… Most accurately – Reliable information is power! The Truth: Source evaluation is an art – and not always easily accomplished!
“C” in the C.A.R.S Model Credibility: A trustworthy source relies on the author’s credentials. Peer reviewed/moderated articles are preferable. Articles which represent reputable organizations can be a solid source of information. Goal: Use an authoritative source that supplies good evidence of trustworthiness.
Author Credentials Author’s education, training and/or experience in a field relevant to the information. Biographical information; author’s title or place of employment. Author provides contact information (e-mail, etc.). Organizational authorship from a known and respected organization. Black History Canada
Quality Control: Scholarly and Peer Reviewed Journals Scholarly journals have a peer review process meaning several readers examine and approve content. Scholarly journals contain articles written by, and addressed to, experts in a discipline. They are concerned with academic study, especially research, and demonstrate the methods and concerns of scholars. The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report original research or experimentation and to communicate this information to the rest of the scholarly world. The language of scholarly journals reflects the discipline covered, as it assumes some knowledge or background on the part of the reader. Scholarly journals always rigorously cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. Many scholarly journals are published by professional organizations. While not all scholarly journals go through the peer-review process, it is usually safe to assume that a peer-reviewed journal is also scholarly. JSTOR Database now at MNHS!
Organizational Responsibility Note the difference between:“Stephanie Burdic, employee of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency said today that a new ice age is near.” AND “The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency said today that a new ice age is near” Use Organizational Websites of Respected Organizations NOAA
Wikipedia • Don’t use it as a source! • Here’s one good reason why! • Fairview High School DO USE IT TO START YOUR BASIC, BASIC RESEARCH! Example: Omaha Race Riot 1919
Know the Organization’s Bias Greenpeace – Environmental activism on a variety of subjects Nuclear Energy Institute – For Nuclear Energy! Nebraskans for Peace – Tackles a wide range of subjects. ‘Peaceniks’ who believe in social justice Americans for Prosperity – Concerned with economics with emphasis on less government and taxation
Meta-Information Summary meta-information includes shortened forms of information, such as abstracts, content summaries, or even tables of contents. Gives quick glance at what a work is about and allows us to consider many different sources without having to go through them completely. Archive.org Google does this automatically in the searching process Wonder Wheel Recommendations, reviews, commentary within articles themselves Civil War Article from Smithsonian
Indicators of Lack of Credibility Anonymity Lack of Quality Control Negative meta-information (if all the reviews are negative, be careful) Bad grammar or misspelled words
“A” of C.A.R.S. Accuracy: The source is up-to-date, factual, detailed, exact, and comprehensive. The source reflects intentions of completeness and accuracy. Goal: The source is correct today (not yesterday). The source gives the whole truth.
Timeliness Some work is timeless: Classic novels; Philosophical Works; Primary Historical Documents Some work is time-sensitive: Science; Technology; Medicine; and Business Check and re-check data and realize the need to always update facts Note: Many web pages display today’s date automatically, regardless of when the content on the page was created. If you see today’s date on a page other than from a news site, be extra careful.
Comprehensiveness Beware the source that deliberately leaves out important facts, qualifications, consequences or alternatives. This site might be misleading or deliberately deceptive.
Audience and Purpose Is the intended audience children? Scholars in the field of study? Does the article have a purpose or objective? Do the authors want you to buy something? Engage in a particular action? Information pretending to objectify but possessing a hidden agenda of persuasion or a hidden bias is among the most common kind of information in our culture. Herbal Remedies
Indicators of a Lack of Accuracy: No date on the document Vague or sweeping generalizations Old date on information that changes rapidly Very one sided view that does not acknowledge opposing views or respond to them
“R” of C.A.R.S. Reasonableness: The source is fair, balanced, objective, reasoned, without conflict of interest, has absence of fallacies without a slanted tone. Goal: The source engages the subject thoughtfully and reasonably, concerned with truth.
Fairness - Objectivity A balanced, reasoned argument not selected or slanted. Look for a calm tone, presenting the material without emotional appeals. Angry, hateful, critical, spiteful tones betray an unfair argument and may be trying to manipulate your thinking. Look for conflict of interest especially on sites that can stand to gain politically or financially.
Moderateness Test the information against how the world really is. Most truths are ordinary. If a claim is hard to believe, use caution and demand more evidence than you might require for a lesser claim. Is the information believable? Does it make sense? Does it seem to conflict with what you know? Lasik at Home Mankato, MN Dog Island Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie
Consistency The consistency test simply requires that the argument or information does not contradict itself. Sometimes when people spin falsehoods or distort the truth, inconsistencies or even contradictions show up.
Worldview A writer’s view of the world - political, economic, religious –including anti-religious- and philosophical often influences his or her writing profoundly. Look for slant, issues raised, issues ignored, fairness to opponents, kinds of examples, and so forth.
Indicators of Lack of Reasonableness Intemperate tone or language: (“stupid jerks,” “shrill cries of my extremist opponents” Over claims (“Thousands of children are murdered every day in the United States.” Sweeping statements of excessive significance (This is the most important idea ever conceived.”) Conflict of Interest: (“Welcome to the Old Stogie Tobacco Company Home Page.” To read our report, ‘Cigarettes Make You Life Longer,’ click here.”)
“S” of C.A.R.S Support: The source lists other sources, contact information, available corroboration, claims supported, with documentation supplied. Goal: The source provides convincing evidence for the claims made, a source that can be triangulated (find at least two other sources that support it).
Much Information Comes From Other Sources… Citing sources strengthens the credibility of information. Where did this information come from? What sources did the author use? Are the sources listed? Did the author provide contact information in case you want to discuss an issue or request further clarification? What kind of support for the information is given? How does the writer know this? Statistics need to be verifiable. Distinguish between fact and advertising.
Corroboration Do other sources support this source? Triangulate findings: find at least three sources that agree Use information to test information Especially important when information is dramatic or surprising
External Consistency Look at what is familiar in an old source to what is familiar in a new source If it is faulty in what you know, likely it will be faulty in what you don’t know All About Explorers
Indicators of a Lack of Support Numbers or statistics presented without an identified source for them Absence of source documentation when the discussion clearly needs such documentation You cannot find any other sources that present the same information or acknowledge that the same information exists