Evaluating Resources

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Since you are in the process of writing a research paper, and you are exploring a particular topic from a critical perspective, which includes engaging in the “dialogue” around that topic, it is important to start thinking about reliable resources or sources.

Obviously, the world is full of information to be found; however, not all of it is valid, useful, or accurate. Evaluating sources of information that you are considering using in your writing is an important step in any research activity.

The quantity of information available is so staggering that we cannot know everything about a subject. For example, it is estimated that anyone attempting to research what is known about depression would have to read over 100,000 studies on the subject, and there is the problem of trying to decide which studies have produced reliable results.

Similarly, for information on other topics, not only is there a huge quantity available, many have an uneven level of quality. You do not want to rely on the news in the headlines of sensational tabloids near supermarket checkout counters, and it is just as hard to know how much to accept for what is in all the books, magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, journals, brochures, websites, and various media reports that are available. People want to convince you to buy their products, agree with their opinions, rely on their data, vote for their candidate, consider their perspective, or accept them as experts. In short, you have to sift and make decisions all the time, and you want to make responsible choices that you will not regret.

Evaluating sources is an important skill. It has been called an art as well as work—much of which is detective work. You have to decide where to look, what clues to search for, and what to accept. You may be overwhelmed with too much information or too little. The temptation is to accept whatever you find, but do not be tempted. Learning how to evaluate effectively is a skill you need both for your course papers and for your life.

When writing research papers, you will also be evaluating sources as you search for information. You will need to make decisions about what to search for, where to look, and once you have found material on your topic if it is a valid or useful source for your writing.

For this discussion, you will share with the class three sources from your References (APA) page.

Please follow the following directions:

1. Start by listing the sources (in proper APA format) and then, under each source, (in 1 paragraph) tell us why it seems like an important perspective or voice on your chosen topic.

2. In a second paragraph, tell the class a bit about how you chose the source, and how you have assessed it to be a reliable, educated, and/or informed perspective.

3. Spend some time evaluating at least TWO peers’ sources. Provide two peers with feedback on their three sources and whether you agree that they seem like reliable, well-informed, and relevant voices/perspectives to use. Be sure to support your reasoning.

As usual, this discussion is worth 25 points.

Remember: If you have any questions about this discussion or are unsure about how to proceed, feel free to post your question here.



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