12 November 2006

Regarding the assignment on information gathering:

Most of you did a fine job when answering how to test a website for reliability and validity. You wrote that a website is reliable if it is recent information; if it is from a reliable source; if it has been reviewed by other experts in the field; if it is a .edu, .org, or .gov site (though now it's possible that not even those sites are completely reliable); if an author and contact information are listed; if the research covers multiple perspectives; if the publisher is reliable; and if the information is verifiable. Those are the big ones for reliability. For more on this topic read here.

A source is valid and logical if the author makes a logical argument that builds to a reasonable conclusion, and backs up those arguments with other credible information.

On the topic of Wikipedia: Many of you have heard that I do not allow you to use Wikipedia as a reference in your assignments. You also wrote that Wikipedia is not entirely reliable, and that there is information on Wikipedia that is false. All of those things are true. Some of you fell short on when one might want to use such a source of information. If you need a quick reference about something that is not that important, (i.e. a character in a certain movie/book, a place, or event) then Wikipedia is not entirely bad. It is not considered a scholarly source, nor are most websites. In an academic setting it is not appropriate to use those types of sources when information gathering.

Encyclopedias and databases (which you have access to through your library accounts), are the sources of most credible information. You've heard me use the term peer-reviewed when related to research. What that means is that experts in the field of that subject have looked at the research and deemed it accurate. When writing a scholarly paper, it is important to have multiple sources coming to the same conclusion. The Scientific Method isn't just for Science.

Types of research:

Quantitative Research has to do with actual numbers. Think of this type of research as finding out quantities (numbers). You can determine statistics related to a topic and apply those statistics to a greater population. You are trying to determine the relationship between one thing and another.

A question for quantitative researcher might be something like: Are the majority of minimum wage workers over the age of 18?

Qualitative Research has to do with cultural issues and does not use as much Math. A qualitative researcher comes to conclusions based on observations and case studies. Results from qualitative research does not necessarily prove the hypothesis, but it can provide a strong argument for why something might occur.

A question for a qualitative researcher might be something like: Do children who watch prime time television commit more acts of violence?

A possible hypothesis for each question would be:

The number of minimum wage workers are above the age of 18.


Children who watch prime time television are more likely to commit violent acts.

The null-hypothesis is a statement that negates the hypothesis:

The age of a worker does not determine a pay rate of minimum wage.


Watching prime time television has no effect on children.

You'll be using this information later on this quarter, so if you have any questions about it please post your questions to the discussion board on Blackboard.