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ENGL 1010 - Murdock-Hinrichs

Determining the authority of a information source

How do you know if a source is authoritative? Consider the following questions:

  1. Who is the author?
    1. Do they have experiential background lending them authority in the subject?
    2. Do they have an educational background lending them authority in the subject?
    3. Do they have corpora, or a number, of publications on the subject?
    4. How has the author been received by their scholarly peers?
  2. Who is the publisher?
    1. Is the publisher an academic institution (example, Duke University Press)?
    2. A scholarly organization (example, Institute of Engineering Thermophysics)?
    3. A non-profit organization or think tank (examples Women with a Vision and the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Brookings Institute and the Heritage Foundation)?
  3. What's the date of the source? 
    1. Is it current? because:
      • Are the author's biases showing?
      • Has our understanding of the subject substantively changed since the piece was published?
      • Does the date of publication provide socio-cultural context to your topic?

As an additional tool you can refer to, here is a chart that compares the general traits and characteristics of scholarly, popular, and professional resources.

In Class Exercise - Theory into Practice

What we're doing: This exercise will put all the theory we just discussed about the authority of an information source into practice.

How we're doing it: You will work as a team in break out rooms to assess the authoritativeness of a number of web-based resources. There are a total of 4 resources but we only have only 15 minutes. Don't worry if you run out of time; this exercise is about understanding and how well you do it, not about how fast you do it. If you run out of time no worries, just click the next button until you get to the completed message.

Although the purpose of working as a team on this is all about saving time, take advantage of the situation to talk things through and learn from one anothers' unique perspectives.

Link to Exercise:

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