Exit interview question 1- Some students say that it is hard to know if facts are indeed facts. The long-term success of academic research and the ongoing search for truth relies on getting this...

Exit interview question

1- Some students say that it is hard to know if facts are indeed facts. The long-term success of academic research and the ongoing search for truth relies on getting this right. What advice would you give the students as to how to go about determining the accuracy of the so-called facts?

2- Why is using a good search engine and narrowing your search important?

3- When is it important to reference (cite) a source of information?

4- Why is paraphrasing better than quoting long excerpts from a text?

5- What is the purpose of providing the last name of the author in brackets after you have quoted from a text?

6- Rose is worrying about an upcoming research assignment. She wishes to find good information regarding how technology affects how people communicate. Rose has never done an assignment like this before, and she needs your advice. Provide Rose with step-by-step instructions about how she can collect good information regarding her topic.

Asked on by uglylion

3 Answers | Add Yours

mathsworkmusic's profile pic

mathsworkmusic | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Q1 & 2

If someone presents something to you as a fact there are various measures you can take to assess its accuracy. If the 'fact' is an abstract concept that can be proved on paper using basic assumptions (axioms) as a starting point, as in mathematics and science, then it is possible for you to go through the logical steps yourself and reach the same conclusion. However, if it is a fact about the real world that is being put forward, it is not possible to prove it on paper alone and measurements and data (whether quantitative or qualitative) from real scenarios would be needed. In this case, most often and probably always, there would be at least one person with an opposing view about what the 'truth' is, as real data always contain noise, however small. The 'truth' then is represented by a consensus, rather than logical abstract thought. The task for you as the researcher in this case is, rather than logically working through abstract concepts on paper, to summarise the consensus of opinion as to whether this 'fact' is true or not. This necessarily becomes a subjective problem which is why research is such a hotbed of activity, because the quality of information as well as the quantity is, as standard, taken into account. What experts say is worth x times more than what a layman says, and x is a subjective quantity. If a vast swathe of experts agree that something is a fact then noone except an expert with a great deal of kudos could disagree. Even with data that show seemingly unequivocal evidence contesting the said fact, this could only be recognised as so by a suitable weight of opinion. To make assessment of the quality of information easier, expert knowledge is and has been gathered to established hubs, such as peer-reviewed journals, respected publishers, seats of learning, 'optimal' internet search engines, highly regarded websites. It can be dangerous to assume that information is of high quality simply because it comes from a source such as these, much as experts, as humans, can make wild mistakes. A good researcher always reserves some judgement about the quality of any information they are presented with because developments can only be made where there are open and inquiring minds. 

Sources:
StephanieRR's profile pic

StephanieRR | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

When is it important to reference (cite) a source of information?

If you take direct quotes from a source, or you include information in a paper that you did not come up with yourself/isn't considered general knowledge, you need to cite it. It tells people who gets the credit for the idea/quote and where they can find it, and as far as students or published writers go, it prevents accusations of plagiarism, which can have severe results.

4- Why is paraphrasing better than quoting long excerpts from a text?

Paraphrasing text demonstrates that you actually have looked through the original excerpt and understood it on your own terms, rather than just parroting someone else. It looks better to readers if you are able to frame your arguments in your own words instead of relying on someone else's to convey your idea for you. Long excerpts also require block quotes, which take up a lot of space in a paper, and walls of text are not the best way to get people to read what you have to say.

5- What is the purpose of providing the last name of the author in brackets after you have quoted from a text?

Providing the author's last name gives each quote a source of authority. Anything can be put into quotes, but that doesn't make it a credible source. Not only will an author's name show you got the quote from someone other than "some guy on a bus this one time" but it will also let the reader know it is an appropriate authority, someone who would actually know about the topic you are exploring. It also will help match the quote to the text when someone looks at the works cited page.

uglylion's profile pic

uglylion | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

what about q 3456?

We’ve answered 318,989 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question