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WR121 Donnelly

Research guide for Taylor Donnelly's WR121 students, who are writing a selection of essays over the course of the term.

What is good info?

OK, so you're writing an essay and you need to get some inspiration from an outside information source or two. Taylor wants you to use "reliable databases and scholarly searches" to access reliable information. What counts as reliable?

It depends. I find that asking myself these questions helps me decide if information is good to use:

  1. Is there thoughtful substance to this information?
  2. Can I identify an author? Is that author human?
  3. Does this information seem trustworthy to me?
  4. Do I trust the publisher of this information?
    • Anyone and anything can publish nowadays - a non-profit organization, advocacy group, college, corporation, online troll who got his very own blog, or bot.
  5. If this is an opinion piece, is it fact-based or totally coming out of left field?
  6. How old is this information and does that matter?
  7. Could you talk about this topic around the water cooler?
  8. Does this source ask questions? Is it philosophical?
  9. Is the source long enough to actually share good, meaty information?
  10. Is there bias?
    • Bias is a tricky can be acknowledged and up-front, or it can be hidden. Watch for word choice, images, or headline placement that might influence your interpretation of the content.
  11. Was this information free?
    • You get what you pay for, and CCC Library databases aren't free (tuition and tax $). Or you pay in pop-up ads.

Examples of reliable resource types

Anything that conveys information can be a type of source. Types of sources include:

More reliable Maybe reliable? Less reliable
Magazine articles.
Professional blog posts.
Subject encyclopedias.
Higher education websites.
Professional organizations' websites.
Documentary videos.
Peer-reviewed articles.
TV news.
Newspaper articles.
Crowd-sourced website articles.
Social media???
For-profit organizations' websites.
Paid or partner content.
Sponsored or recommended content.
Click-bait website articles.
Fake news articles.
Entertainment-focused blog posts.
Online "comments" sections.
Ad content.

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