In a perfect world, you could trust all information that crossed your path to be true, accurate, and reliable. But let’s face it. You have to read your sources with the skill and skepticism of a good CSI investigator. Even solid source material can sometimes have facts wrong: Newspapers may rush to print before all the facts are in. Authors are human and have their own biases. And with the web, anyone can post anything without having to be tied too closely to truth or integrity.
So what’s a poor student researcher to do?
Well, use those critical thinking skills of analysis and evaluation to do the following:
- Examine and compare information from sources to determine those with the most validity, reliability, accuracy and authority.
- Analyze the structure of an article to determine the strength of its arguments.
- Recognize propaganda techniques.
- Draws logical conclusions based on the all the information read.
Now you may have been told that if you use the databases, your sources are reliable, and if you use the web, they are not. But really, it’s not that simple. Some websites are excellent sources, and some books or articles are totally biased. You need to analyze and evaluate any source you use.