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COM 112 - Oral Communication

Evaluation: Three questions

What is it? Why do I care? What does it really say?

You answer these three questions every time you use a source, whether you know it or not.

  • Whether it is a website or a scholarly journal article...
  • Whether it is for a 1st-year course or real life...

Start noticing how you answer these questions to ensure your sources are really meeting your needs.


The Three Questions:

  • What is it: What is the source type and author credibility?
    • Quick Wikipedia checks are okay! You can also compare what other source say about that source.
  • Why do I care: Does the source type and author credibility meet your needs?
    • Decide this at the beginning so you know whether to read the material or find something better.
  • What does it really say: Perceive how the word choices influence the knowledge.
    • The author's word choices, included and excluded information, and the aim of the publication all make a difference in how or why you would use a source.

Where to Find the Credibility Information for Sources

How to find credibility information

Find the Wikipedia article

  • If an author or source is well-known enough, use the Wikipedia article to quickly check for background information and note any controversies.
  • The Wikipedia page of a scholarly journal is also a good quick place to check if it is peer-reviewed.

Look on the source itself for bio information

  • A journal, newspaper, magazine, book, or website likely has information on it somewhere about the author.
  • If there is no author on a website, the website assumes authorship; look for an "About" page but don't use that exclusively.

Search the author or publication online

  • Search the name of the author inside quotes, such as "Oliver Sacks."
    • Add site:edu for scholarly journal authors.
    • Add the word journalist or the name of the newspaper for journalists.
  • When there is no information about an author online, consider whether they may have died before online presence was established.

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