| By Gale Staff |
In this digital age, we are flooded with a vast array of information available on the internet. Access to such an immense volume of data can understandably be overwhelming, especially considering that so many sources contradict one another. How is anyone supposed to decipher fact from opinion?
Now, more than ever, it is critical for educators to help researchers develop skills to find reputable sources for reference. Credibility is key, and there are certain steps that everyone can take to ensure their research is valid. For instance, it’s important to think critically about the content of a website, considering factors such as the purpose of the source, its publisher, and who is behind it. But how can you help researchers find credible sources?
Connect Researchers to Primary and Secondary Sources
When academic students are first learning how to research on their own, it’s essential to ensure they understand the difference between primary and secondary sources and have access to both.
Primary sources provide a unique view into the topic being studied, such as diaries, speeches, official records, or research results. On the other hand, secondary sources are those that interpret or analyze primary sources and can include articles from newspapers or magazines, books, reports, and reviews.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive platform to connect researchers to all the sources they need, Gale’s databases provide a wealth of both primary and secondary material that is reliable and vetted by expert content curators. For example, Gale OneFile: U.S. History provides a wide array of content related to U.S. history, including text analysis tools, multimedia, and interactive timelines.
Gale subscribers have access to reliable primary sources such as letters, speeches, interviews, and other materials related to their desired areas of study. Databases also include rich libraries of secondary sources to ensure that research efforts are well-rounded and encompass a variety of types of thought.
Researching in an all-in-one platform helps reduce digital intake fatigue, making it a more efficient and fulfilling experience.
Teach the Importance of Authority and Credibility
When searching for information on any given topic, it’s important to make sure that the sources being used are trusted and credible. One way to do this is by looking at the author of the material in question. Is the author an expert on the subject? How can one tell? Have researchers check if the author has a professional website, a list of credentials, or if they are affiliated with any known educational institutions or reliable organizations.
When vetting a source’s credibility, teach students to look for any potential conflicts of interest. Can you trust the person or company for your topic? Have researchers determine if the content contains an objective analysis, or if the work is opinion-based or one-sided.
It’s also essential to consider the time frame of the source in question. How current is the information being presented? As times and technology change, new discoveries can be made in any field of study. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the source being used is not outdated.
When teaching students about credibility, it’s essential to emphasize that it’s not always easy to tell who is an authority on a given subject. For example, Wikipedia often has information from a variety of vetted sources, but because it is an open-source platform, the accuracy of the information presented cannot be guaranteed. However, drawing from sources such as American Heritage or State Magazine is a reliable way to ensure that information is accurate, as reputable organizations have stringent quality control measures.
With Gale, students have access to trusted authors and reliable resources that ensure the information they are using is factual and up-to-date.
Share How Researchers Can Utilize Opinions
In a highly polarized world, it’s more important than ever that students understand the distinction between fact and opinion. While opinions can often be subjective, facts are objective and can be proven. It’s essential to make sure that students use trusted sources when researching a particular topic so that they are getting accurate information from reliable sources.
When using opinions to back up assertions in academic works, be sure that they are credited as such and not stated as fact. Additionally, scholars should always find multiple opinions on a particular subject to ensure that the paper or analysis is well-rounded.
By utilizing Gale’s vast library of authoritative resources, scholars can find both the facts and the opinions they need to support accurate, thorough, and insightful research.