Websites and Sources, Questionnaire Example

  1. 1. What should you consider when searching for useful sources? How do you know when sources are reliable? What are some red flags that indicate you should avoid a particular source?

When searching for useful sources there are many things you should consider. The first consideration is over primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are expert sources of first hand information that you research yourself. Secondary sources are sources of information that have already been researched and collected together, such as magazines, books, periodicals, journals, websites, recorded lectures, and films for example. For primary resources, you need to consider if there are any experts on your topic of research you can interview. For example, for my topic I might look for someone who does seminars on time management, a medical doctor to discuss the effects of stress on the body, or a psychologist who has studied stress relief. The research topic needs to be kept in focus when looking for secondary sources also. Sources are reliable when you can verify facts with another source. Some red flags might be no source list or unverifiable information.

  1. 2. What websites do you normally frequent? Are these websites credible? When is credibility more important and when is it less important? Support your answers with specific examples.

Some websites I normally frequent include facebook, twitter, msn, accuweather, abc, pinterest and hgtv. And then I also visit the school website, of course. Some of these websites are credible and some are not. Sites like facebook, twitter, and pinterest do not monitor the validity of posted statements. People and companies can post what they want as long as it does not break their few general rules. It is up to the reader to determine credibility of posts for themselves. Sites like msn and accuweather are credible. MSN is a valid news resource and accuweather a weather news site reporting information determined by working meteorologists. ABC and HGTV are entertainment sites and credibility is not really expected. In general, credibility is not as important when you’re reading your friend’s post about the latest test or what was good for lunch. When you click on a link for the latest news on the election of the next pope, however, it is important that the site you are transferred to be a credible news source.

  1. 3. Is it difficult to determine a source’s bias? Why or Why not? What difficulties could you face as you read and analyze a source critically?

Every source, even professional ones, are biased one way or the other. Some biases are easy to determine, while others are more difficult. This is often the case with primary sources, as they may strive to be perceived as neutral so their information will sound more credible and less open to doubt. Perceived biases can cast doubt on the information presented and the primary sources credibility, so it makes sense to attempt to sound as un-biased as possible. Of course, if the agenda is to push a particular standpoint the bias will be easy to spot since the source will return to the same issues and make the same points again and again. Paying attention to the source’s tone and word usage can help. Determining bias can be difficult if you have little knowledge of or background in the subject. In order to accurately gauge bias in a source, a wide range of topic research from many different sources may be necessary.     

  1. 4. How do tutorials prepare you for findings and evaluating sources for your assignments? What concerns do you have about using the University Library

Tutorials are valuable tools to teach you and help prepare you for findings and evaluating sources for your assignments. It is possible to find tutorials on almost every aspect of doing research. Tutorials can be found through the University Library website. They can also be found throughout the internet on sites like youtube and on the websites of public libraries. Tutorials help to prepare you for findings and evaluating sources by teaching you how to conduct focused searches, so you can be weed out information that is irrelevant to your research topic. They also show you how to search for information only found in peer-reviewed journals or periodicals so you can be sure the information gathered is credible, already having been fact-checked before publication. I am concerned most about my ability to do a search that brings back relevant information, something the tutorials should be able to help me overcome.

  1. 5. Does the opinion of an expert in a field carry more weight that the opinion of someone who is not an expert? Why or Why not?

Yes, the opinion of an expert in the field carries more weight than the opinion of someone who is not an expert. This is because the person considered to be an expert in the field has acquired and practiced certain skill sets particular to their own field that have not been learned and practiced by the layman. These are skills that the expert requires in order to perform the daily tasks or routines associated with the job. The expert often has been trained, maybe even certified or earned an academic degree, in their area of expertise. Gaining the opinion of a person such as an expert in their field who is willing to lend their knowledge carries a lot of weight in credibility and reliability. The opinion of someone who is not an expert cannot be taken at face value. It must be verified and fact-checked against the opinion of an expert, even if only in a secondary source.

  1. 6. What is the difference between current sources and relevant sources? Is it possible that a source might fit one category but not the other? How?

The difference between a current source and a relevant source is that a current source refers to a source that has been created recently and a relevant source refers to a source that contains information on the research topic. Because a source is current does not guarantee that it is relevant and vice versa. In my research I might encounter a current source on the effects of stress on the body that does not consider time management as a stress factor. This source would be current, but not relevant to my research.