• Course Introduction

        • Time: 6 hours
        • Free Certificate
        This course will help you evaluate the sources and choose the most accurate and credible information for your projects – whether you are writing a research paper as part of an academic program, compiling a report for your business, or writing a journal article for a magazine. You should always evaluate your sources and references for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. The information you choose will reflect well or poorly on you since your audience judges whether you are a thorough academic researcher, reliable contract employee, or credible journalist.

        We begin our study by exploring the concept of ethos, establishing why ethos is a fundamental part of the research process, and looking at the practical effects of how your target audience views you. In Unit 2, we will review the entire research process to get a big picture of what you can expect and will need to complete your research successfully. In the last two units, we will examine how to assess whether the sources you find are credible. Unit 3 reviews considerations for all types of research, and Unit 4 offers additional considerations for websites in particular.

        • Course Syllabus

          First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

        • Unit 1: Credibility and Ethos

          The quality of information you use to support your ideas affects your credibility as a writer and thinker. For example, suppose you use material you find on a website or in a magazine article that includes a ranting blogger or author as evidence to support your claims. In that case, you bring your argument down to the author's level, especially if the material does not seem to have been peer-reviewed. However, using information vetted by scholars and professional organizations elevates your thinking and bolsters your ethos to your readers.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 1 hour.

        • Unit 2: The Research Process

          Since the research process can seem daunting, it may be helpful to review the steps you should take (and re-take) to research your topic. Keep in mind that for the purposes of this course, our examination is not a comprehensive look at the research process, but an overview of what to expect and how to begin finding the sources you need for your project.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 1 hour.

        • Unit 3: How to Evaluate Sources

          The research process models we explored in Unit 2 discussed how to find sources. Now, we need to evaluate which sources are correct and valuable and which are not. Whether you have discovered an online source or an artifact at your local library, the CRAAP model of source assessment will help you determine whether it is credible and usable. This clever acronym refers to the test you should use for your source evaluation process. It will help you sort your information into quality sources you can use and materials you should discard. In this unit, we focus on some broad principles to guide your source assessment.

          In Unit 4, we will look at some additional guidance for checking online sources, which have some unique features that can help you. First, let's discuss some general research evaluation principles that pertain to both online and printed sources.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

        • Unit 4: Special Considerations for Evaluating Online Sources

          Until this point, we have focused on appraising sources using the five criteria of the CRAAP evaluation method: credibility, relevance, authorship, accuracy, and purpose. Let's take a quick look at two similar evaluation models – APPEAL and RADAR – and review some additional features that can help us better assess the quality of online resources.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 1 hour.

        • Course Feedback Survey

          Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.

          If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org.

        • Certificate Final Exam

          Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

          To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

          Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.