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ENG 101: Composition I (Woodbery): Home

ENG 101: Composition I (Bonnie Woodbery)

An introduction to writing that concentrates on developing expository techniques through summaries and essays incorporating analysis, synthesis, argument, and critical thinking skills. The course also teaches research skills, and a major documented paper is required. Mastery of standard English usage and principles of composition is determined through departmental examination and evaluation.

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Evaluating Sources

Currency

Currency relates to the timeliness of the information. Consider the following questions:

  • How recent is the information?
  • When was it published and/or last updated?
  • Does the age of the information affect your ability to use it?

Some information will be timeless, meaning that the age of it doesn't affect its usefulness. Historical or theoretical information, for example, could still be useful whether it was published yesterday or more than five years ago.

Other information seems to change on a daily basis, especially in the fields of medicine and technology. You don't need a decades-old diagram on how to perform a specific medical procedure, unless you're looking at the evolution of medical practices over time. You want the most up-to-date information available to inform your nursing practice.

It's not always possible to figure out when something was published, so look for copyright statements, or use other context clues to help you determine the publication date. If the resource cites other items, look at their publication dates. If it doesn't cite anything past 2010, then it was probably published in 2011 or 2012.

Sources

Madison College Libraries. (2019, Sept. 3). Information literacy: Guide for students. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://libguides.madisoncollege.edu/InfoLitStudents

Muskegon Community College. Library. (n.d.). Information literacy modules. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://www.muskegoncc.edu/library/information-literacy-modules/

Penn State. University Libraries. (2019). Evaluating information. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://libraries.psu.edu/services/research-help/evaluating-information

Skyline College. Library. (n.d.). For students: Information literacy. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from http://www.skylinecollege.edu/library/informationliteracy/

Reliability

Reliability relates to the trustworthiness of the information. Consider the following questions:

  • Is the information biased/primarily based on opinion?
  • Does the information's creator provide references or data sources?
  • Who is the intended audience?

Just as you're expected to cite information whenever you write a paper, any author making claims in the resources that you're using should do the same. If they provide information, especially statistics, without giving proper credit to the original source--or without detailing their research methodology--then how can you trust that the data is reliable?

If there aren't any citations or references in the resource, why is that? Do the authors expect that the majority of their readers already agree with the claims that they're making, or are they making claims based solely on their own personal biases or opinions, which might not be supported by any real evidence?

Make sure that you can tell the difference between fact and opinion. Don't blindly trust everything that you read/see. Try to verify all information that you come across, especially if you plan to use it in your own writing.

Relevancy

Relevancy relates to the importance and usefulness of the information to your specific research needs. Consider the following questions:

  • What kind of information is included?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e., is it too elementary or too advanced)?

Consider the course that you're taking and the paper that you're writing. Would a juvenile reference source give you the detailed information that you need to write your senior capstone or graduate-level research paper? What about a magazine article that's meant for everyday easy reading and doesn't require any special knowledge to understand? Neither of those resources would provide the information that you'd need to write a research paper.

Focus your research on resources written by academics and professionals in your field. These types of resources tend to be more authoritative than something that's been written for the general population.

Sources

Madison College Libraries. (2019, Sept. 3). Information literacy: Guide for students. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://libguides.madisoncollege.edu/InfoLitStudents

Muskegon Community College. Library. (n.d.). Information literacy modules. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://www.muskegoncc.edu/library/information-literacy-modules/

Penn State. University Libraries. (2019). Evaluating information. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://libraries.psu.edu/services/research-help/evaluating-information

Skyline College. Library. (n.d.). For students: Information literacy. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from http://www.skylinecollege.edu/library/informationliteracy/

Authority

Authority relates to the source of the information, particularly the credentials or education-level of the people who created the resource and whether or not they have the knowledge or expertise required to produce it. Consider the following questions:

  • Who is the creator/author of the information?
  • What are the creator's credentials or affiliations?
  • Who is the publisher of the information?
  • What is the publisher's interest in this information?
  • Is the creator/publisher reputable?

Everyone has an agenda, and everyone has a reputation. Make sure that the authors and publishers of your sources are in good standing within their field of study and are truly focused on educating students, professionals, and fellow researchers with verifiable facts.

Accuracy

Accuracy relates to the truthfulness or correctness of the information. Consider the following questions:

  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify the information by tracing its sources or through personal knowledge?

You should always be able to trace secondary information back to its original source. If possible, try to get your hands on the original source of information.

Sources

Madison College Libraries. (2019, Sept. 3). Information literacy: Guide for students. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://libguides.madisoncollege.edu/InfoLitStudents

Muskegon Community College. Library. (n.d.). Information literacy modules. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://www.muskegoncc.edu/library/information-literacy-modules/

Penn State. University Libraries. (2019). Evaluating information. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://libraries.psu.edu/services/research-help/evaluating-information

Skyline College. Library. (n.d.). For students: Information literacy. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from http://www.skylinecollege.edu/library/informationliteracy/

Purpose/Point of View

The purpose or point of view relates to the reason why the information exists. Consider the following questions:

  • Is the information factual, an opinion, or propaganda?
  • Are there advertisements included alongside the information?
  • Does the creator/publisher clearly state their purpose/intentions for providing the information?
  • Is the purpose of the information to entertain, inform, persuade, sell, or teach?
  • Does the information contain cultural, ideological, institutional, political, religious, or personal biases?

Sources

Madison College Libraries. (2019, Sept. 3). Information literacy: Guide for students. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://libguides.madisoncollege.edu/InfoLitStudents

Muskegon Community College. Library. (n.d.). Information literacy modules. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://www.muskegoncc.edu/library/information-literacy-modules/

Penn State. University Libraries. (2019). Evaluating information. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://libraries.psu.edu/services/research-help/evaluating-information

Skyline College. Library. (n.d.). For students: Information literacy. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from http://www.skylinecollege.edu/library/informationliteracy/