In this assignment, you will evaluate three digital sources in preparation for the Project Proposal, which is due in Week 7. This means learning to identify good sources and not-so-good sources. In a world abounding in fake-news, one of the most important skills you can learn in order to be a good citizen is how to tell a good source from a bad source. This is not about politics; there are good and bad sources on the right and the left. It is about ensuring that your arguments are based on solid evidence.
The Objective: Demonstrate your mastery of Course Goals 1, 2, and 3 by:
1. Accurately and effectively communicating ideas, information, arguments, and messages to present material in a historical context.
2. Investigating and evaluating historical information from global, social and ethical perspectives to guide decision making.
3. Applying historical precedent to contemporary roles, responsibilities, and relationships in order to advance the goals of a community or organization.
Delivery: Submit your assignment as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file via Source Evaluation in the Assignments Area. No .pdf or other file types are acceptable. You may submit this assignment before that date if you wish. Make sure you include your name on your assignment.
Late submissions will be reduced 10% (10 points) for each week or portion thereof late.
Your assignment heading should look like this:
HIST 125 — Technological Transformations
Prof. (Your Professor’s Name)
Monday, 29 July 2018 (Today’s Date in Your Preferred Format)
You may either place this at the top of your first page, or you may place this information on a title page. There is no need for a title page, but if you like the tidy flair of a title page, you are most welcome to use one.
Step 1: Briefly state in 2 or 3 sentences what you intend to explore in the Project Proposal. (This will require exploring the Project Proposal instructions under Week 7.) Your decision does not have to be firm, but your direction should be clear enough that your work in the Source Evaluation will help you differentiate credible from non-credible sources for your Project Proposal. In other words, this assignment should help you succeed in the Project Proposal, and it should help you in your efforts to be a good citizen.
Step 2: Read the UMUC Library guidelines for evaluating Web resources, “Is My Source Credible?:” http://www.umuc.edu/library/libhow/webresources.cfm
Then View their Video “Evaluating Websites:” https://sites.umuc.edu/library/libhow/websiteevaluation_tutorial.cfm
or Read the Transcript for the Video: Transcript of UMUC Evaluating Websites Video.html
Step 3: Using the UMUC Library and a search engine of your choice (e.g., Google or Bing), find three (3) websites related to the research for your Project Proposal. At least one source must some from the UMUC Library database. The UMUC Library source is worth 1/3 of the grade for this assignment. These may include digitized books. Your sources do not all have to be credible. It is important to be able to identify a source as a good starting point or as not credible.
Wikipedia is an excellent starting point, so you could use a Wikipedia page related to your Project Proposal topic, but you should identify it as a good starting point rather than as a highly credible source. Wikipedia is not bad; in fact it is as accurate as encyclopedias like Britannica. However it is crowd sourced rather than edited by professionals in the field, so it is not suitable for citing as a definitive and credible source. Where Wikipedia is useful is in its overview to give you a general idea of a topic and in the footnotes at the bottom of the page. Though not always, these footnotes are usually chock full of solid sources.
K-12 educational sites are not bad starting points but are not generally peer reviewed. University level .edu sources and .gov sources tend to be credible (Think NASA or the Library of Congress.) as do many museum sites, but even the Smithsonian has been known to be wrong on their websites. Likewise government agencies exist for a specific purpose, which will help you determine in which direction bias may fall. This process is an art rather than a science. The more you do it, the more skilled you will become.
A source that has little credibility would be something like www.medievalfayre.com. This is essentially a Renaissance Festival resource. It is a fun source to be sure. Likewise anything that has the feel of Bob’s History Page is not going to rank high on your credibility scale – unless of course that Bob is the late Bob Scribner of Cambridge University.
Step 4: State your chosen citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago) and follow it to cite your source so that it is clearly identifiable, allowing the reader to reach and evaluate the source. Specifically identify which source is a UMUC Library source.
Step 5: Declare the source to be one of the following: very credible, reasonably credible, a good starting point, less than credible. There is grey area here. This is why the next step is so important. To justify this determination, thoroughly address all of the following:
- author or organization authorizing the site
- accuracy of information presented
- purpose of the site
- bias vs balance
You may write in paragraphs or in bullet points, whichever is more comfortable for you. In either event, use complete sentences.
For example for Step 5, let us say that you have this source as a random example. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4073139/ Perhaps you are tackling cancer, heart disease, and diabetes as associated with obesity.
Using complete sentences in either bullet point or paragraph form as I have done below, you would say something along the lines of:
This source is very credible because the authors are both highly accredited in their fields and have published in other peer reviewed journals. (Note to students for how to find this out: Simply do a quick Google search for the authors’ names. You will find that both of these scholars are with Loma Linda University and have earned their credentials.) Also since the studies on this site come from peer reviewed journals, the information would appear to be accurate. The purpose of the site is to make cutting edge, high quality medical research available to the widest possible audience. Finally, the study appears to be balanced.
Grading: This assignment is worth up to 225 points, 22.5% of the final course grade. Be sure to use the rubric to ensure that you are working toward the score you aim to achieve.
Quick Hits: 1: I know you are not a historian, so I know that there may be oversights in the assessment of accuracy. Essentially, if you can check it via Wikipedia or Britannica, your assessment should be accurate.
2: There is some grey area. You may argue with me if you do not agree with my assessment of your evaluation. If you convince me based on evidence already presented in your evaluation that I might have interpreted differently from you, I will change your score.
3: All sources are biased. It is the degree of bias and the kind of bias that matter. For a modern day example, Huffington Post tends far to the left in bias; Fox News tends far to the right in bias. Reuters strives for balance. This does not mean that you should never use a heavily biased source, but doing so requires you to balance it with another heavily biased source on the other side. It is easier and more credible simply to use a balanced source in the first place