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Missoula College: WRIT 101

Who do you trust?

Who do you trust?  What gives them authority?

There are many factors involved when trying to assess a source's authority. Think about why you trust the people you do. When looking at a source it is important to know if the author or publisher has the authority to write on this topic. This can be accomplished by checking on the author's credentials. Do they have the appropriate education, experience, and/or credentials to backup their statements? Here are some tips for checking authority:

  • Google the author's name to verify their background
  • Check the "about" section of the journal to verify peer-review
  • Confirm that the author is associated with their stated institution

In this class, you are the authority! As an author of a research paper or project, you have a stake in the topic. You already know something about the topic and are the authority on this subject in this classroom. What will give your work authority?

For more information on evaluating sources, check out the links below:

Everyone has bias, even you!

Everyone is influenced by their own experiences, opinions, cultures, and goals. This impacts every part of your life, even when you don't realize it, and it especially impacts the information you interact with daily. Acknowledging and assessing your biases will help you make informed research decisions based on evidence

Keep in mind that scholarly sources are not above bias. Researchers, authors, peer reviewers, and editors are just as susceptible to their own biases. Think about how this affects which articles are published, and which aren't. Academia in the United States is rooted primarily in Western, male-dominant ideologies, and research that does not support or conform to these structures are less likely to be published.

For more information on bias, check out the videos below:

Evaluating Sources

  • Bias: What is the author’s stance or opinion about the topic?
  • Authorship (Sponsorship): What are the credentials of the author? Who may have sponsored, or paid for, this information?
  • Credibility (Accuracy): Is the information substantiated by facts? Is it confirmed by other sources? Whose perspective is missing?
  • Coverage (Scope): Who is the intended audience? Does the information cover your topic in a meaningful, thorough way?
  • Purpose: Is the information useful for your topic? Is it directly speaking to an issue you have identified?
  • Timeliness: Is the information timely to the topic?
  • Reliability (Verifiability): Is the information valid? Is it supported by other credible sources?
  • Impact: How does the information compare with local knowledge, traditions and culture? What is the consequence of the information for future generations? What is its effect  locally? Regionally?