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UGS 302 - Music and Psychology - Domjan

Evaluating information - What to trust?

Diagnose your information need

Articles that appear in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals are different than the articles you see in magazines, newspapers and on the Web. 

  • Newspapers and magazines have a staff of editors.
    • Why do they choose to publish the articles that they do?
    • Who writes for magazines and newspapers?
    • How do you get access to these publications?
  • Academic journals are peer-reviewed before publication.
    • Who writes in these publications?
    • Who decides what gets published in these journals?
    • How do you get access to these publications?
  • Think of a source you read on the Web to get news or information.
    • Who writes for that source?
    • Who decides what gets hosted or posted on that site?
    • Do you pay for access to that site?
    • How do they make their money to employ staff and stay up and running?

Criteria to use in evaluation

For all types of sources: 

  • Author - are they an expert? An expert in what?
  • Publication - who is the audience? How does audience affect what gets published? 
  • Relevancy
  • Currency
  • Citations / references: whom do they cite? Are those reliable sources?
  • What else have they written and where was it published?

For scholarly conversations, specifically:

  • Why do folks want to get published in these journals?
    • job concerns - getting a job and keeping it
    • participating in the scholarly conversation - journals are the only place it happens
    • the research in journals is the most up to date, the most cutting edge, the newest knowledge on a topic - it's how the field is advanced
  • Pay attention to funding - who is paying for this research and are there conflicts of interest? Can the author benefit financially from this research, from his or her claims being accepted?

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