Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out
Get this document free



   Available facts, circumstances,
    etc. indicating whether or not a
    thing is true or valid.
(The Oxford Dictionary of Current English.)
From Sherlock Holmes
   In one story Sherlock Holmes comes back
    home and learns that he had a visitor, but
    the visitor left in a hurry
   However, the visitor left a hat in Holmes’
   Holmes looks at the hat and begins his
Sherlock Holmes’ reasoning
   “That the man was highly intellectual is of
    course obvious upon the face of it…”
   Holmes clapped the hat upon his head. It came
    right over the forehead and settled upon the bridge
    of his nose.
   “It is a question of cubic capacity,” said he;
   “a man with so large a brain must have
    something in it.”
Deductive reasoning
   All people with large hats have large
   This man has a large hat
   Therefore
   This man has a large head
Deductive reasoning
   All people with large heads have large
   This man has a large head
   Therefore
   This man has a large brain
Deductive reasoning
   All people with large brains are
   This man has a large brain
   Therefore
   This man is intelligent
The need for evidence
   Premises must be either assumed or
   Only obvious truths can be assumed
   If they are not obvious, they must be
    proven/supported with evidence
How do we know that:
   This man has a large hat
   All people with large hats have large
   All people with large heads have large
   All people with large brains are
This man has a large hat
   Evidence?
   The hat itself.
   We have the hat. We can see it. We
    can measure it.
   How do we know it is large?
   In comparison to what?
All people with large hats have
large head.
   Evidence?
   It sounds logical, but:
   Are there any exceptions? Can we be
All people with large heads
have large brain.
   Evidence?
   It sounds reasonable, but “sounds
    reasonable” is not good enough
   We need biological, medical studies. At
    least a newspaper article reporting on
    such studies
All people with large brains
are intelligent.
   Evidence?
   This is the most difficult.
   We definitely need biological, medical
   They must be solid studies
   From reputable and reliable sources
    In a logical argument facts are always
    preferable to opinions.

   FACT is “a thing that is known to exist
    or to be true”
   OPINION is an unproven belief, something
    that either cannot be proven or is not proven
    at this time.

   Opinions are someone’s perceptions of
    the facts.
Epistemological issues
   How do we know?

   The Question of CORRESPONDENCE
Correspondence theory of truth
   What we believe or say is true if it
    corresponds to the way things actually
    are—to the facts.
   A belief is true if there exists an appropriate
    entity—a fact—to which it corresponds. If
    there is no such entity, the belief is false
   When we use an artifact, we let others to
    observe the actual thing. (Actual objects,
    photos, videotapes)

   Is the artifact genuine?
   Is the artifact typical of the class of items it
    is supposed to represent?

   EXAMPLES (individual instances): A
    report or description of an observation,
    experience, event, etc.
   Examples of what?
   Factual examples?
   Hypothetical?
   Recent?
   The field of STATISTICS is concerned
    with the COLLECTION,
    INTERPRETATION of data according
    to well-defined procedures.

   Descriptive statistics = data reduction.
   Collection and organizing data.
   Making some sense in all these numbers.
 Inferential statistics
  = drawing conclusions.
(especially about causal relationship)
Were the statistics collected by a reliable
Were the statistics collected from a
 sufficiently large sample/or a sufficiently
 long period of time?
Are comparable units used in statistical
Scientific theory:
common miunderstandings
   In a common usage the word “theory”
    means an opinion, speculation, unproven
   In science that guess or speculation has
    another word: hypothesis.
   The initial guess that is tested by scientists
   The first step to develop a theory.
   If the hypothesis cannot be proven, it is
    rejected (it remains an unproven guess).
   However, if, after rigorous scientific
    testing, the hypothesis is proven to be
    true, that hypothesis becomes a theory.
   When scientists use the word theory, they
    mean that a particular explanation of natural
    phenomena is well-substantiated by
    scientific tests.
   When an observation has been repeatedly
    confirmed, for all practical purposes the
    theory is accepted as ‘true,’ it is a fact.
The key characteristics of science and
scientific theory
   Science is not a set of doctrinal and dogmatic
    beliefs. Nothing in science is accepted as true
    until it can be proven true through rigorous
   Further, many theories continue to be tested and
    retested. Although it is rare that a theory is
    disproved by new evidence that was not available
    in the original testing, many theories are being
    extended and modified.

   Internal consistency: evidence is consistent
    with other statements in the same argument
    (you are not contradicting yourself).
   External consistency: evidence is consistent
    with the majority of other available
   Is the source known to be honest and

   Does the source have anything to gain by
    reporting the information?
   Does the source have credentials as an
Primary versus secondary sources
   This distinction illustrates the degree to
    which the author of a piece is removed from
    the actual event being described
Primary versus secondary sources
   Primary sources: These are
    contemporary accounts of an event,
    written by someone who experienced or
    witnessed the event in question. These are
    original documents
   Secondary sources: Usually retell or
    interpret primary sources, and so can be
    described as at least one step removed from
    the event or phenomenon under review.
Judging the authority of the text
   Specialized knowledge of writer
   Qualifications and/or reputation of writer
   Specialized knowledge of other people
    who contribute information (e.g. interviewees)
   Access writer has had to relevant sources
   Citation procedures used (evidence seems
    authentic: e.g. names, dates given).
Special care in evaluating
Internet sources
   Problem 1: a large number of material on
    the Internet is self-published (not
   Problem 2: many unreliable sources and
    articles resemble high quality sources
   Problem 3: tendency to believe that
    “everything is on the Internet”
   Problem 4: relying on Google etc.
Evaluating websites:
Author’s authority
-   Is the author or sponsor readily identifiable?
-   What information is there about the author or his
    or her credentials?
-   Is the material presented from a particular point of
    view? How would you know?
-   What links are there to other sites; what does this
    tell you about the site you are evaluating?
-   What is the purpose?
Evaluating websites:
Publishers Authority
-   To whom is the site directed?
-   Whose site is it?
-   How is the site financed?
-   Why has the site been established?
-   What is its history?
-   When was the site last updated?
-   Is there a link to its home page?
Your Library GUIDES

   Bibliographic Citations
   Boolean Operators
   Controversial Topics / Opposing Viewpoints
   Finding Biographical Information
   Help Finding Biographies
   Key to Library Jargon
   New Users Guide
   Peer Reviewed Versus Other Types of Periodicals
   Masters Theses and Project Guidelines
   Website Evaluation Criteria
Your Library
Online EZ Research Workshop
   By the end of the tutorial students will know how to:
   Use 5 database search strategies for effective searching
   Conduct searches using the Boolean operators AND, OR,
    & NOT
   Read a bibliographic citation correctly
   Select the right information resources for their topic
   Brainstorm keywords and synonyms for effective search
   Determine the availability of the full text of cited items and
    use document delivery services as needed
   Handbooks
   Encyclopedias
   Annual Reviews / Series
   Bibliographies
   A scholarly subject book:
   provides a comprehensive summary of
    most recent, relevant, and important
    research and research trends.

   Also manuals and books of facts
General encyclopedias:
Britannica, Americana, Wikipedia, etc.
Encyclopedia Of 20th Century
  Photography 2006
International encyclopedia of
  communication 1989
   A comprehensive list of sources on a
    particular topic
Legal Research Resources
   Oyez: US Supreme Court Case
    Summaries, Oral Arguments &

   American Bar Association's Lawlink: The
    Legal Research Jumpstation
   Scholarly (peer reviewed)

   Popular: newspapers, newsmagazines,
    trade journals, etc.
Scholarly Journals
(Peer Reviewed)

 •   Report original research; review and
     evaluate previously published
     materials; or expand and refine theory.
 •   Often published by a professional
     association, society, research
     institution, or academic institution.
Examples of scholarly journals
   Harvard Business Review
   Journal of Management Studies
   Journal of Animal Science
   Quarterly Journal of Speech
   Human Communication Research
   American Political Science Assoc. Review
   Journal of Geophysical Research
Non-scholarly publications
 •   Diverse topics covered - popular topics or
     current events.
 •   News on a daily or weekly basis.
 •   Appeals to the layperson or tradesperson
 •   Contains advertising
 •   Published by commercial publisher.
 •   Sources not cited
 •   Contributions by local staff, newswire
     services and syndicated columnists.
 •   USA Today
 •   Los Angeles Times
 •   New York Times
 •   Wall Street Journal
 •   Chicago Tribune
 •   Washington Post
   Good basic information on topics of
    current interest, especially in national
    politics and international affairs.
   However, the articles seldom have
    depth and may be opinionated.
   Some examples are: The Economist,
    Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News &
    World Report
   Aim at an educated audience interested in
    understanding the significance of
    contemporary events and ideas -- social,
    political, and scientific. Typically, they offer
    information from a particular point of view.
   Fairly objective: Atlantic Monthly, The New
    York Review of Books,
   Very partisan: American Spectator,
    American Prospect, Nation, National
    Review, New Republic
   The information they offer may or may
    not be valid (it should be verified). Their
    purpose is chiefly to entertain. They
    very seldom should be quoted in a
    serious paper.
   Examples: Car and Driver, Esquire,
    Good Housekeeping, Omni, Readers
    Digest, and Sports Illustrated.
Recording Evidence…
   Know what evidence is needed
   Keep an annotated bibliography
   Have an organized system of note taking
     Using note cards helps

     Putting headings on your cards helps even more
   PURPOSE: to enable readers to retrieve
    and use the sources.

   Distinguish references and bibliography

   Agreement of in-text and end-of-text
Reference List: General Forms
   Flores, T. (1992). Communications statistics:
    Country-by-country analysis. Flores and Associates.
    Retrieved 05/24, 1992 from
   Martinez, C. R. (1996). Pesticide controversies.
    Pesticide Journal, 12, 17-24.
   Smith W. (2001, January 17). Obesity matters. The
    New York Times, A1, A4.
   Walker, T. L. (2005). Marketing television shows.
    New York: Copley.

To top