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Evaluating Sources

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  1. Evaluating Sources Alisa Cooper Professor of English ENG 102 SMCC ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  2. Introduction • This lecture discusses evaluating sources • Please read chapter 11 in Writing, Reading, & Research, 5th Ed. Veit, Could, & Clifford and view The Good, The Bad & The Ugly website: http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/eval.html ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  3. Topics of Discussion • Evaluating general sources • Evaluating web sources ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  4. Evaluating Web Sources • Why it’s a good idea to evaluate web sources • Taken from the website: • http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/eval.html ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  5. Criteria • Accuracy • Authority • Objectivity • Currency • Coverage ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  6. Accuracy • Is the information reliable and error-free? • Is there an editor or someone who verifies/checks the information? • Rationale • Anyone can publish anything on the Web • Unlike traditional print resources, web resources rarely have editors or fact-checkers • Currently, no web standards exist to ensure accuracy ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  7. Authority • Is there an author? Is the page signed? • Is the author qualified? An expert?Who is the sponsor? • Is the sponsor of the page reputable? How reputable? • Is there a link to information about the author or the sponsor? • If the page includes neither a signature nor indicates a sponsor, is there any other way to determine its origin? ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  8. Authority • Look for a header or footer showing affilitation. • Look at the URL. http://www.fbi.gov • Look at the domain. .edu, .com, .ac.uk, .org, .net • Rationale • See number 1 above • It's often hard to determine a web page's authorship • Even if a page is signed, qualifications aren't usually given • Sponsorship isn't usually indicated ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  9. Objectivity • Does the information show a minimum of bias? • Is the page designed to sway opinion? • Is there any advertising on the page? • Rationale • Frequently the goals of the sponsors/authors aren't clearly stated. • Often the Web serves as a virtual "Hyde Park Corner", a soapbox. ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  10. Currency • Is the page dated? • If so, when was the last update? • How current are the links? • Have some expired or moved?Rationale • Publication or revision dates not always provided. • If a date is provided, it may have various meanings. For example, • It may indicate when the material was first written • It may indicate when the material was first placed on the Web • It may indicate when the material was last revised ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  11. Coverage • What topics are covered? • What does this page offer that is not found elsewhere? • What is its intrinsic value? • How in-depth is the material? • Rationale • Web coverage often differs from print coverage • Frequently, it's difficult to determine the extent of coverage • Sometimes web information is just-for-fun or outright silliness ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  12. Evaluating Other Sources • All sources are not equally reliable. • Not all writers are equally competent. • Not all periodicals and publishers are equally respected. • And not all statements from interviewees are equally well informed. • And certainly not every claim that appears in print is true. ENG 102 PP5 Cooper

  13. Questions to ask about your source: • Is the publication respectable? • What are the author’s credentials? • Is the source presenting firsthand information? • Does the source demonstrate evidence of careful research? • Is the source up-to-date? • Does the source seem biased? • Do your sources consider all view points and theories? ENG 102 PP5 Cooper