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Credibility is Crucial
As you begin to answer your research questions, you need to be sure that you are using the best possible sources of information. You will likely find a variety of sources during your research: books, articles, Web documents, interviews, DVDs, and more. For each and every source you use you want to make sure it passed the CRAAP test:
Currency - Is the content presented current enough for your project? For your specific research question?
Relevancy - Does it answer your research question?
Authority - Does the author have relevant expertise on the topic about which she is writing?
Accuracy - Is the information provided correct?
Point of View - Is the information biased? Is the author trying to persuade you to believe a certain way?
Scholarly, Substantive and Popular Sources
Types of sources include Scholarly, Substantive, and Popular publications. It is essential you are able to identify them and understand their differences.
- Authors = scholars/experts
- Audience = scholars/experts
- Purpose = communicate specific information within an academic or professional discipline
- Characteristics = Scholary language, author credentials, long articles, extensive bibliographies, often peer-reviewed
- Example: Journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association
- Bottom line: Highly credible. Always a good choice for academic work, but know what you're getting into.
- Authors = scholars or journalists
- Audience = educated, but non-expert
- Purpose = communicate information of interest and import + to make a profit
- Characteristics = accessible language/style, medium length
- Example: Newspapers (New York Times) and some magazines (National Geographic, The Economist)
- Bottom line: Credible. Most community college instructors will allow some substantive material. Watch for bias.
- Authors = journalists, staff writers, freelance writers, enthusiasts
- Audience = general
- Purpose = entertain, sell, inflame
- Characteristics = easy to read, short articles, highly entertaining, lots of pictures and ads
- Example: Some magazines (Men's Health, People) and many Web pages
- Bottom line: not suitable for school, but what fun!
Types of Publications
||Entertain, sell products, and/or promote a particular viewpoint
||Provide general information to a wide, interested audience
||Report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly world
||Staff writer or journalist
Name and credentials often not provided
|Staff writer, scholars, or free-lance writers
Expert or scholar in the discipline
Name and credentials provided
||General readers with a minimal education level
||Written for an educated, general audience
||Written in simple language
||Written in language for an educated audience
||Written in the jargon of the scholarly discipline
||Short articles; slick and glossy; contain photographs, illustrations, and drawings to enhance their appeal
||Longer articles; attractive in appearance; include photographs, illustrations, and graphics to enhance the publication
||Long articles; grave, serious formats; graphs and charts; seldom glossy pages or pictures
||Rarely cite any sources; original sources can be obscure
||Occasionally cite sources
||Cite sources with footnotes and/or bibliographies