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PHIL 231: Media Ethics: Evaluating Sources

Spring 2015/ Dr. Achim Koeddermann

Evaluating Sources

When researching sources, it is important to use information that is reliable and appropriate. Not all material you find will be labeled as "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed", thus it will be up to you to analyze the material for such elements as currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose. One of the useful tools to use is the CRAAP test and it works for just about any source you find - books, journals, articles or websites.

Currency - how timely is the information? When was it published and has it been updated since then? If it is a website, are there multiple broken links? For the topic you are researching, is the information current or out-of-date?

Relevance - does the information answer your research question or add something new to your knowledge of the topic? Does it meet the stated requirements of your assignment? Is the information too technical or simplified for you to use?

Authority - who is responsible for the information? Are the author's credentials/contact information provided? Can you find information about the author from other reference sources or have they been cited by others in their field?

Accuracy - can the information be supported by evidence from others? Is the tone/language of the writing neutral and unbiased? Are there grammatical or spelling errors?

Purpose - is the information there to teach, inform, entertain, sell or persuade you? Do the author's make their intentions clear? Is the information factual, someone's opinion, or propaganda?

Citing Sources

Academic Integrity is the basis of academic life. It is the manner in which you behave in an academic environment when you do research, write a paper, or create a project. The five fundamental values of academic integrity are honesty, trust, respect, fairness and responsibility. Academic integrity is the commitment to live by these values. Read the SUNY Oneonta Academic Honesty policy, here.

Plagiarism is to use, steal, or represent the ideas, words or products of another as your own words, products or ideas without giving credit to the original author or originator. The consequences of plagiarism can range from having to rewrite your assignment, failing the assignment, failing the class, or being suspended or removed from school.

To avoid any type of plagiarism always cite the sources you have used, both in the text of your document as well as in the works cited page.

Not only do you need to cite the sources you have used, you need to format your citations correctly. Always ask your professor what citation style they would like you to use.

There are many different guides available to assist you in citing correctly. For detailed information about print and online citation tools, see this guide from the Milne Library. As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!