Critical Thinking Finding, Evaluating, and Using Sources Lecture
Critical Thinking Finding, Evaluating, and Using Sources Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 1 General Purpose This lecture is intended to improve your ability to write research papers. The ability to research is needed for nearly every profession that requires a college degree.
everyday life (hiring contractor or lawyer, investing in the stock market, voting, deciding on entertainment). your own intellectual pursuits. Being an informed member of society. Developing your own arguments on important issues. But remember, not all evidence is good evidence. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 2 Finding Sources We have access to a lot of information, so learn to
refine your search. Ask specific questions To identify the questions you need to ask, sometimes its helpful to write your own argument, and then figure out what question you need to answer to figure out if your premises are true. Use directional material to guide you to informational material. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 3
Directional Information / Material Bibliographies Indexes and Databases Internet Search Engines, Guides, and Directories Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 4 Bibliographies: Lists of books or publications. These can be found in libraries or online San Jos State University - Powering Silicon Valley
MLK Library > Library catalog > Title (Author, Subject, etc.) > National Union Catalog Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 5 Indexes and Databases: These are often lists of books and works by topic (e.g., The Philosophers Index). Often they include the works themselves. Academic Gateway (SJSU) - SJLibrary.org Databases > Title (Keyword, Author, etc.) > Business
Source / Communications and Mass Media, PhilosophersIndex, Linguistics and Language Abstracts Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 6 Internet Search Engines, Guides, and Directories: Learn to restrict your search, so you dont have to go through so many pages to find what you need. Yahoo and about.com are good. Also serious discussion groups (e.g., groups.google.com) are good, and can lead you in
the right direction. http://www.google.com/ Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 7 Activity Using the internet, find one of each of the following for your major: Bibliographies: Indexes and Databases: Internet Search Engines, Guides, and Directories
Biographical Sources Dictionaries Government Documents Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 9 Encyclopedias Online or not, are good for basic information and introductions to topics. They also have bibliographies that can point you in the right direction.
Be careful of editable ones (e.g., Wikipedia). Not everything is checked before it is posted; read with a careful eye. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 10 Almanacs, Yearbooks, Fact Books, etc. are good for finding information on specific persons. Whos Who
are good for answering uncomplicated questions. e.g., How many Americans are on Social Security? Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 11 Dictionaries: general as well as specific dictionaries (e.g., legal dictionaries, slang, philosophy, math, film) are also useful.
www.onelook.com indexes more than 600 online dictionaries. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 12 Government Documents have everything from biographical information on congress members to advice for repairing a home. firstgov.gov is a good place to start. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill
Higher Education 13 Informational Sources Human Sources Instead of wondering around for hours, ask the librarian (that is what they are trained for). Faculty members, local experts, government officials, etc. can help answer questions within their area. Always have questions ready when you go into an interview of an expert. Make sure they are precise and categorized (fact and opinion questions).
Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 14 Evaluating Sources Content: Facts and Everything Else The Author and the Publisher The Audience Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 15
Content: Facts and Everything Else Separate facts from everything else (such as falsehoods and opinions). Separate verified and documented facts from other kinds of facts (the unverified and the unverifiable). Some facts cannot be verified e.g., a hole-in-one with no witnesses Some facts can be verified through eyewitness testimony, measurement, agreement among several sources, documentation Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education
16 Content: Facts and Everything Else Dont just assume that what people call facts are facts. e.g., Freud : The fact that women must be regarded as having little sense of justice is no doubt related to the predominance of envy in their mental life; for the demand for justice is a modification of envy and lays down the condition subject to which one can put envy aside. We also regard women as weaker in their social interests and as having less capacity for sublimating their instincts than men. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill
Higher Education 17 Content: Facts and Everything Else Watch out for false appearances of being well documented. Instead of simply citing a surveys conclusion, quote the survey and give details of how it was given (let the reader decide if it was biased). Conclusion: Seventy-five percent of college students prefer t live in coed residence halls. Context: According to a recent survey of one thousand college students conducted for Campus Harbinger magazine, 75% of college students prefer to live in coed residence halls. The
survey included students from all four classes in six college across the country. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 18 Content: Facts and Everything Else Be careful of cherry-picked evidence (where the author uses true information that supports his/her claims but leaves out other true information that would debunk his/her claims). Biased language can reveal an authors biases and give good reason for suspicion of their claims.
President Clinton did not serve in the military vs. President Clinton avoided military service. Check the dates of information: Is the article up-todate? Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 19 The Author and the Publisher Something being written or published doesnt make it true; we must ascertain if the author or publisher is reliable. Who is an authority?
Author < Latin auctor = creator Are authors authorities? One does not have to be an expert to become an author. Somethings having been written does not necessarily make it true. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 20 The Author and the Publisher What is the Authors Background? Usually you need an author who is educated in the relevant area (although there are exceptions).
What are the authors credentials? How long has the author studied the subject and what has s/he done in it? Make sure you get good authors on both sides of the issue (not just your own). Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 21 The Author and the Publisher What are the Author's Bias and Purpose?
A pamphlet published by the Tobacco Institute may not be the most credible source for information on the effects of second hand smoke. The same would be true of a pamphlet published by anti-smoking organizations (e.g., thetruth.com). What stake does the author have in the topic. For surveys, how were the questions worded? What is the authors purpose in writing? Double check possible biased material, or find non-biased sources. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 22
The Author and the Publisher What are the Authors Sources? Most writers respond to those who have preceded them. Make sure the Authors sources arent biased. Make sure the Author uses them in non-biased ways (e.g., not leaving out information that might hurt his/ her argument). Be wary of unnamed, undocumented, or completely unreliable sources ina writers argument. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education
23 The Author and the Publisher Who is the Publisher or Sponsor? (Be careful with Websites). National Inquirer or People vs. New York Times or U.S. News & World Report Academic journals, publishing houses Language, Oxford University Press Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education
24 Scholarly vs. Nonscholarly Periodicals Scholarly Journals: JAMA, Harvard Business Review, Philological Quarterly, etc. Nonscholarly Periodicals Journals of Opinion (policy journals): Mother Jones, New Republic, American Spectator, Commentary, Progressive, Weekly Standard, etc. News & General-Interest Magazines: Time, Newsweek, New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American, etc. Popular magazines: People, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Mens Health, Redbook, etc.
Trade Publications: Industry Week, Advertising Age, Forbes, Fortune, Business w\Week, Variety, etc. Sensational Publications: National Examiner, Globe, Star, National Inquirer, etc. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 25 Peer Reviewed Articles Sometimes called juried articles Important because theyve gone through a vetting process conducted by peers (experts in the field) to ensure accuracy
See MLK Library tutorial Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 26 The Audience Who is the intended audience? If the intended audience of a work is not college educated, it probably wont work (except as a starting place) for a college research paper. If the intended audience already shares the conclusion of the publication (like subscribes to a conservative talk
show hosts news letter), suspicion is called for. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 27 The Audience How has the audience responded? If a work written for a group was not received well by that group, it probably is not a great source. Book reviews are a good way to find this information. Of course, works may not be well received by some audiences because the author is trying to correct
mistakes in the audiences thinking (and the audience is not receptive even though the author is right). Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 28 Pop Culture Connection Steven Colbert on Truthiness Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education
29 Taking Notes Be sure to be selective with your note taking (when reading, dont highlight every other sentence). Bibliographical Information: write down the author, title, publisher, etc. for each text. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 30
Taking Notes Content Notes: Quotations: Make sure to get it exact. Material omitted for brevity gets ellipsis points (). Added material used to clarify goes in brackets [like this]. Summaries: identify thesis and supporting points (see chapter 7) Paraphrasing: restate the argument in your own words (see chapter 7) Always be sure to read many times over. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 31
Using Sources Acknowledging Sources: Dont Plagiarize: blatantly copying or paraphrasing without effort to acknowledge the source. What doesnt need citation: well known facts and quotes. What needs citation: direct quotes, statistics, surveys, obscure facts, unique descriptions or examples, any ideas that are not your own. Perdue Universitys Online Writing Lab (OWL) Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education
32 Using Sources Incorporating Sources: Quoting Words and Phrases: incorporate exact words or phrases into your writing, using quotation marks (). Quoting and paraphrasing longer passages: Introduce the passage to provide context and sometimes bibliographical information. If you paraphrase, make sure that you are paraphrasing (and where your paraphrase begins) is clear. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill
Higher Education 33 Using Sources Block Quotations: If a quote is more than 50 words, omit quotation marks, maintain double spacing, and indent the left margin five spaces. Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 34
Question for Discussion Some of these requirements may seem petty and unnecessary. So why are they required for sound academic and professional writing? Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education 35 Lecture Notes 2008 McGraw Hill Higher Education
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