Assessment INSTRUCTIONS In this assignment, you will put your evaluation skills to work. Using the criteria you learned in this lesson, select at least 2 sources you suspect may be unacceptable for a topic relevant to an academic assignment and at least 1 suspected acceptable source. You will put each source “on trial” to evaluate its criteria as an acceptable research source. You may select from one of the following example topics, or choose your own: Sports injuries Genetically modified foods Endangered species Fill out the following questions to evaluate each of the sources. In the appropriate field, note whether the source meets the criteria or not, and why. At the conclusion of each source evaluation, record the “verdict” for each source: is it “guilty” of being unreliable, or “innocent,” and acceptable for research? Key Criteria Evaluating your sources can be simplified if you look at specific areas of a source, breaking down an article, book, or web page to learn more about it. Authority: Authority refers to the credibility of the author or creator of the information. A person with authority is an accepted expert in his/her field. Accuracy: Accuracy refers to how factual the source is. An accurate source has reliable references to back up its claims – references that can be verified. Currency: What is current varies from subject to subject. Medical research relies on a shorter time period for currency than literary or historical studies. Relevance: Is the source really relevant to your topic? Does it strengthen your argument? Some sources may only relate to your topic in a loose way, especially topics with multiple subcategories. Objectivity: The point of view and purpose of a source can help you determine how objective a source is and how much bias plays a role. Authority Authority can be determined by looking at an author’s credentials (résumé or CV or degree listings), publications, citations referring to the author in other publications, etc. Currency What is current is a subjective idea and varies among fields of study. For example, geocentrism (the idea that the sun and all the planets revolve around the Earth) is outdated in the sciences and is not considered current. However, manuscripts and other documents on geocentrism might still be current sources for a scholar studying the history of astronomy. Medicine and Science: The most current medical studies are generally less than 5 years old; Scientific studies can vary, but the most recent studies are usually the most sought after. History and Literature: These fields can rely on documents from a wide variety of time periods, especially if working with primary documents or manuscripts. Psychology and Sociology: These fields deal with human behaviors and interactions. While more current research is best, the time frame for what is current may be longer than in medicine and science. It’s important to keep in mind the notion of interdisciplinary studies when looking at currency. For example, if you were researching the history of medicine, currency for your sources could vary. You should also pay attention to the type of credentials an author has and in what field. An advanced degree in chemistry does not translate to expertise in biology, for example.
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