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Technology Tip of the Month

August, 1996: Evaluating Sources--Practice

by Deborah Healey

The July Tech Tip provides the background for this month's practice. If you haven't read it, do look at July's Tech Tip before you start working through these exercises.

In general, you'll use the date, author, and content to judge whether or not a source is reliable. With online sources, the links that led you to the site and the links from the site can also help give you an idea of how good your source might be. Remember--you can use the URL (Web address) to help you learn something about the author.

The most important thing to remember about Internet sources, though, is that you need to look at them very carefully. There are no Internet police, looking for and punishing lies, so there's no guarantee of truth.

Exercise 1

Rank the following sources from 1 (no academic purpose) to 6 (highly reliable). Discuss your rankings with a partner. Make sure you can explain why you gave the ranking you did.
a) An article in a 1996 CD-ROM encyclopedia with a bibliography.
b) A message from someone in a Chat group called 'Tech Talk.'
c) An e-mail message from a friend about something that happened to a friend of his last year.
d) A message on a mailing list for people in your profession, written by a well-known person.
e) A recent article in an online refereed journal, with a bibliography.
f) Three paragraphs' worth of information you found through a Gopher search.
g) A message from someone on a moderated newsgroup (where the postings are controlled by a moderator).

Possible answers for Exercise 1

Exercise 2

Below are some results from a Web search for "gun control" using Alta Vista. Your tasks:
  1. Look at the different places.
  2. List the author, date, and some other links on the page you are looking at.
  3. In thinking about the content, see if:
    • there are references and a bibliography
    • this reports on research
    • this is a controversial topic, and both sides are presented fairly
    • the same ideas are found elsewhere in reliable sources

  4. Next, rank the results from 1 (no academic purpose) to 6 (highly reliable). Discuss your rankings with a partner.

Reason: Gun Control’s Twisted Outcome November 2002 Gun Control’s Twisted Outcome Restricting firearms has helped make England more crime-ridden than the U.S. By Joyce Lee Malcolm On a June evening two years ago, Dan Rather made many ...

Gun Control Sucks [this site no longer exists]
Gun Control Sucks. These are links to cool papers and pages that happen to agree
with me that GUN CONTROL SUCKS: Point Blank. This is a paper written by... - size 2K - 6 Jan 96

GunCite: gun control and Second Amendment issues Comprehensive presentation of gun control and Second Amendment issues; analysis of firearms statistics, research, and gun control policies.

The New American - Issues In Focus - Gun Control ... Find out and take action at! THE NEW AMERICAN: Issues in Focus Gun Control Related Subjects: Constitution United Nations Subject listing From American Opinion Book Services

COALITION for Gun Control/pour le contrôle des armes (Canada) Founded in the wake of the Montreal Massacre, the Coalition for Gun Control was formed to reduce gun death, injury and crime in Canada.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence As the nation's largest national, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center are dedicated to creating an America free ...

Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns (Gun Control Study by John R. Lott, Jr. and David B. Mustard ... ... Contents Gun Control Study (Lott/Mustard) Firearms Regulation Worldwide (National and International Law) Gun Control Study

Salon Politics2000 | Gun Control ... Weekly (text only) Unsubscribe Salon > Politics2000 > Directory > Issues > Gun Control Gun Control Issue Briefs from Handgun Control Inc.National Rifle Association Video ...

Exercise 3

Do a search for a topic of your choice. List the author, date, and some other links on the page you are looking at. Look at the different places and rank the results from 1 (no academic purpose) to 6 (highly reliable), using some of the suggestions given in Exercise 2. Discuss your rankings with a partner.

See Other tech tips

If you have questions, comments, or for more information, contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
Last updated 26 June, 2009