Validating research sources

There are four questions to ask when evaluating sources: To determine whether printed or online published material provides appropriate information for you, review its table of contents, indexes, photographs, captions and diagrams, and read the first sentence of every paragraph, searching for words, names, concepts or images related to your research.

To support your research's legitimacy, you will want your sources to be experts who have considerable experience and training in an area and whose informed opinion can substantiate (or differ with) your point of view.

For example, it's estimated that anyone attempting to research what's known about depression would have to read over 100,000 studies on the subject.Just as most people would be reluctant to buy a Rolex from a stranger on the street, we must think twice about what we get from unknown sources on the Web as well, whether it’s products or information.The advantage the Web offers, though, is the added capability to validate the reliability of the source.For example, if I was writing a research paper on medicine, I wouldn’t consider a journal or article discussing medicine credible unless the author that wrote the article was a professor of medicine or currently a practicing physician. Summary: Evaluating sources of information is an important step in any research activity.

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