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ENGL 836 Schuler: Finding credible information about the Dominican Republic

Course Guide for ENGL 836 with Prof. Schuler

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Criticism and interpretation of "Oscar Wao"

Identifying credible online information

Researching the Dominican Republic

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz is set in Paterson, New Jersey, and the Dominican Republic. For your assignment you will need to know how to:

  • Identify credible online information; and
  • Build schema about the Dominican Republic

Topics to research

  • History
  • Relationship to Haiti
  • Geography: location, size and climate
  • Economy: industry and sources of income
  • Population: numbers, racial makeup, immigration, income and socioeconomic status
  • Religion
  • Music
  • Food

Search terms

To find information on your topic, search databases with combinations of words that gain results, such as "emigration AND Dominican Republic".

Take one page of Cornell notes on the topic and create a presentation for the class.

Have you P.R.O.V.E.N. that your source is a good one?

How do you judge whether a website is credible? Some of hallmarks of a credible website are:

  • Purpose: How and why was the source created?
    • Why does this information exist? To educate, inform, persuade, sell or entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it?
    • Who is the intended audience? The general public, students, experts?
  • Relevance: The value of the source to your needs.
    • Is the type of source appropriate for how you plan to use it and for your assignment's requirements?
    • How useful it the information in this source, compared to other sources?
    • How detailed is the information? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information
    • Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally?
    • Do they use strong, emotional, manipulative or offensive language?
  • Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information
    • Do the authors support their information with factual evidence?
  • Expertise: The authority of the authors and the source
    • ​What makes the authors, publishers or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic?
  • Newness: The age of the information
    • Is your topic in an area that requires current information, such as science, technology or current events? Or could information found in older sources still be useful and valid?

Domain names contain clues to author and audience

To determine who the author of the website is, look at the bottom of the page for an institution, organization or individual's name. The domain name - the last three letters of the website's url - will tell you what type of organization runs and maintains the website.

  • .edu indicates a university or college
  • .org indicates a nonprofit organization
  • .gov means a government entity created the website.
  • .com, short for commercial, indicates a business website
  • .mil belongs to the military

MLA citation guides

Writing a clear thesis statement

Part of your assignment is to write a clear thesis statement with a definite point of view and a sense of conviction. During the semester, you will be required to write at least five essays.

Learning how to develop your ideas and organize your thoughts will help you finish your papers more easily. In addition to your Online Writing Lab, you may find Purdue OWL's Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements.

Cornell Notes