Topic Name Description
Course Syllabus Page Course Syllabus
1.1: Ethos Page Introduction to Ethos

Watch this video on ethos, which defines the term and explores two types of ethos: situated ethos, which comes from having an existing relationship with your audience, and invented ethos, which is derived from how you build your credibility with an audience who does not know you before your meeting. Pay attention to the three elements that are necessary to persuade others according to the ancient Greeks: logos, ethos, and pathos.

Page Credibility

This video continues the discussion and explains why intentionally thinking about and developing your ethos with an audience is critical before individuals will be willing to accept your message and see you as credible.

Page What Aristotle and Joshua Bell Can Teach Us about Persuasion

Aristotle talked about how ethos, pathos, and logos work together to impact how audiences assess credibility to decide whether a message is persuasive or believable. This video explores how these ideas work together and what that means for the impact of your message.

1.2: Personal vs. Professional Ethos Page Ethos

This article identifies elements that go into developing ethos.

Page Allied Health Ethics and Information

Most professions have generated a code of ethics that practitioners in that field are expected to follow. To get a sense of what it looks like to build credibility in different fields, let's look at examples from the healthcare and journalism professions. Watch this short video for examples of how medical professionals develop their professional ethos.

Page Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists

This article gives examples of the code of ethics we expect journalists to follow. It will help you understand what a professional code of ethics is and how it helps a journalist build their ethos. Understanding these guidelines help us assess when a journalist is living up to their professional expectations.

1.3: Why You Should Check Your Sources Page How to Choose Your News

Watch this video, which explores and demystifies how to assess the quality of your news sources. Understanding how to sort fact from fiction, myth, and outright lies is an essential critical thinking skill. Many of the basic skills you use to determine what to believe and to choose the news sources you follow are a part of the same skillset you use to assess accuracy and truthfulness.

Page Journalistic Scandal

Consider the case of journalist Judith Miller, a writer for the New York Times, who reported inaccurate information from an unreliable source that led to the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Times fired Miller, and she lost credibility among her readers, other journalists, and policymakers. These journalists may have the best intentions, but their reputation is on the line if they reference a bad source.

Read this description of journalism scandals, followed by two examples of when writers famously published sketchy or completely fabricated research: Jonah Lehrer and Sabrina Erdely. Think about how their actions affected their credibility and their careers.

Page Jonah Lehrer

Jonah Lehrer was caught for recycling his earlier work, plagiarizing from colleagues, and fabricating or misusing quotations and facts in 2012. Read this summary of what happened.

Page Sabrina Erdely

Rolling Stone Magazine published an article by Sabrina Erdely in 2014 about a rape that allegedly occurred at the University of Virginia. The story was later found to have been fabricated. Read this description of what happened.

2.1: Beginning the Research Process Page Overview of the Steps

This video gives a quick overview of the research process and helps paint a picture of what you can expect as you explore the topic you are researching.

2.2: Locating Sources Page Finding Sources

This text explains some of your options for sources and the difference between primary and secondary sources. It also introduces how to get started finding sources. As you read, you will learn how to use library resources in online or physical libraries. Each library system is a little different – do not hesitate to talk with your local librarian about the specifics of their system. Librarians are professional researchers and eager to help you with your research! You could not ask for a better teammate!

Book Types of Sources

This chapter is a comprehensive guide on finding sources and the kind of information you can pull from sources. Browse the different sections of this chapter to explore different source types and the things you should consider before using these resources.

3.1: Creating an Evaluation Framework Page Evaluating Resources

In this course, we focus on the CRAAP test. However, there are similar assessment models, such as APPEAL and RADAR, which we touch on in Unit 4. This page breaks down the questions you should ask when evaluating any source. Keep this chart handy for your research projects!

Page Evaluating Sources for Credibility

Before we dive into each element of the CRAAP model, let's explore the process more broadly. Watch this short video, which explains what you are doing when you evaluate your sources.

Page The CRAAP Test

Now that you have a broad idea of what goes on when sorting quality information, we'll use the CRAAP test to help frame our task and build an easy way to remember what to look for in any source you use.

Each of the following videos in this section gives an overview of the CRAAP model. Watch each one to see what you will do during each part of the evaluation process. We will look at each element in detail in the sections that follow.

Page Using the CRAAP Test to Evaluate Resources

This video discusses the CRAAP model and what to look for in your sources.

Page More on the CRAAP Test

This video walks through a step-by-step process for evaluating a source we all know and use: Wikipedia. The speaker explains why Wikipedia is not a quality source for academic papers and projects, although it can be helpful in other ways. This video also demonstrates how to apply each of the steps in the CRAAP model.

3.2: CRAAP – Currency or Timeliness Page Evaluating Information Sources for Timeliness

Watch this video, which explains what to look for when determining whether a source meets the currency or timeliness criteria.

Page The Timeliness or Currency of an Information Source

Watch this concise explanation of what timeliness means for different kinds of sources. Some academic disciplines approach the concept of timeliness differently.

3.3: CRAAP – Relevance Page Evaluating for Relevancy and Timeliness

We begin our discussion of relevancy with a reading on how the currency of the resources you find, which we just discussed, also helps determine whether they are relevant to your research.  The concepts of relevancy and timeliness go hand-in-hand.

This reading also discusses how to establish ethos for the magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals you find. You should use the same evaluation criteria used to vet these materials, even when the types of information differ. Read these tips for judging their relevance to your topic.

Page Sources and Information Needs

Has a scholarly or professional organization published your article? Scholars who specialize in the field sponsor most academic journals, and like-minded scholars usually comprise the editorial board. You should be able to find the criteria the organization uses to accept and review article submissions in the journal's opening pages. This could indicate whether their review process is objective or not.

The next three resources will help you identify the kinds of sources you may want to look at and why some are a better fit for your project than others. First, read this introduction on how to determine your information needs.

Page Evaluating Resources

A book's publication information may give a sense of whether other scholars have vetted its content. For example, if a reputable university or research institute press published the book, you can be reasonably sure the content is credible. Usually, these presses only publish books that scholars in the field have scrutinized.

This video will help you sort through the kinds of sources that may be relevant to the research you are conducting.

3.4: CRAAP – Authority Page Who Do You Trust and Why?

Watch this video to learn how to think about what you are looking for as you work to establish authority.

Page Evaluating a Source Based on Author Authority

You can evaluate the credibility of a book's author pretty easily without knowing a lot about its content. The name of the author is usually on the book's cover or title page. Their biographical information is often included on the back cover, inside flap, or back matter of the book. 

The author of a magazine or newspaper article is usually located near the title. Journal articles often list the author's college or institutional affiliation. 

The author of an online article may be listed near the title or at the end of the story. You may need to visit another site in the "about this site" or "about the author" link. You can also search the internet to find the author's biography, personal website, or alternative social media site. Authors do not typically publish their personal ethos in scholarly journals – they are writing for professional ethos reasons. However, in magazines, newspapers, and online blogs, you often see examples of personal ethos, especially in the opinions or op-ed section.

Watch this video, which explains how to determine an author's credibility, influence, and affiliations using these metrics. This video will help you deepen your analysis of the authority of your source.

3.5: CRAAP – Accuracy Page Determining Accuracy

Watch this video to explore how to determine accuracy in your sources.

Page Evaluating a Source's Reasoning and Evidence

This video explores how to evaluate the accuracy of a source using the reasoning and evidence the author cites.

Page Evaluating Research Resources

This article revisits some concepts we have already covered and explores how to use them to help determine the accuracy of source material.

3.6: CRAAP – Purpose Page The Purpose of an Information Source

Watch this video, which explores why authors produce certain sources and how this should influence your decision to use or disregard their information.

Page Evaluating Sources for Objectivity

Watch this video, which explores what objectivity is, what it means, and why it is important.

Page Evaluating Information Sources for Audience and Purpose

Watch this video for more discussion about how to review a resource's purpose.

4.1: Additional Evaluation Methods Page Evaluate Websites using APPEAL

Watch this video for an overview of the APPEAL model, which is an acronym for author, purpose, publisher, evidence, audience, and latest. This model also focuses on the person or organization that has published the material.

Page Evaluating Sources with RADAR

Watch this video, which explains the RADAR method. RADAR is an acronym for rational, authority, date, accuracy, and relevance.

4.2: Author and Sponsoring Organization Page Consider the Author

Watch this video, which focuses on how to examine the authorship of a website and the information it contains.

Page Evaluating Websites

When evaluating a research paper or scientific journal, be sure to examine the index, footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography. Look at the publication information in the list of references and sources. Do you see university presses? Do you see recent publications? Look at the author's credentials on their biography page. Are they a member of a political organization, think-tank, or another organization that expresses a social or political agenda?

Watch this video for an overview of how to analyze the credibility of a website and its sponsoring organization.

Page Check the URL

An important clue to the origin of the work lies in the site's URL or domain name. The URL is a good indication of who has published the material. If it is linked to a university, research institute, or governmental association – with the URL extensions .edu, .org, or .gov. – you may be on the right track. Note that you still need to review the information you find on these sites.

Watch this video gives a quick intro to the information you can learn from the URL.

4.3: Political, Social, or Cultural Agenda Page What are Credible Websites?

Ideology and biases may influence whether an organization's statements and conclusions are credible or objective.

For example, when the U.S. Department of Labor releases a report that shows average wages have risen at the same rate as inflation during the past year, a pro-business organization may argue the data shows there is no need to increase the minimum wage. But an economic justice organization may say that a wage increase is warranted because the average rise in wages disproportionately helped the rich. Both interpretations are reasonable. However, both display some bias based on the writer's worldview. You should take that into account during your review.

Watch this video to explore some of the ways you can evaluate the agenda of a website.

Page Degree of Bias

Read this article on how to evaluate bias in the websites you come across.

4.4: Appearance Page Consider the Content

Watch this short video for tips on how to review the content of a website.

Page Consider the Links

Watch this video, which advises you to see whether the links on the site work. This may indicate whether the information is kept up-to-date and current. The content of the links can also give you an idea of the quality of the author's sources.

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