digitalman Online Source Credibility 
Brian Carroll | Berry College | Class Homepage 

Support

Support is more than just providing three sentences to back up a thesis statement.

If you're going to use a Web site as a source, it mean the site should list sources, contact information and documentation.

Source Documentation:

Where did the information come from?

What sources did the creator use?

Are they listed in a bibliography or other documentation?

Does the author provide contact information for clarifications?

How well is the information supported?

If you are dealing with statistics, it is especially important that there be documentation. If it isn't, you have no way of knowing whether the author is making up numbers (Remember our Associated Press fiasco example?).

Distinguish between facts ("Mix X and Y together to get Z") and advertising ("Z is the best in the industry").

CORROBORATION:

Do other sources support this one? Even if it's opinion, a sound argument will probably have other people who agree with it.

Can the content be triangulated? If it can't be, research some more to find out the range of opinion or disagreement before deciding the validity of the source or information.

Compared with similar sites, how effectively does the author communicate his or her content and purpose?

Corroboration uses information to test information. It is most important in cases where information is surprising or counterintuitive (i.e., where it fails the moderateness test).

EXTERNAL CONSISTENCY:

Compare information in the new source that is familiar with what is familiar in other sources. Does the first source agree or conflict with other sources? Does it exaggerate or distort information, either in a positive or negative fashion?

If products are being sold or suggested, do prices seem unusually high or low?

Is the information sensible, or is it "too good to be true"?

If a source is inaccurate about information you know, it is likely to be inaccurate in other areas. Be suspicious and skeptical before being trusting.

CLUES TO A LACK OF SUPPORT:

A lack of supporting evidence is the best clue

Numbers or statistics without an identified source

No source documentation when you expect or need it

No other sources that corroborate the information

page 1 | page 2 | page 3

home