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CARS in a Nutshell
- Credibility - trustworthy source, author’s credentials, evidence of quality control, known or respected authority, organizational support. Goal: an authoritative source, a source that supplies some good evidence that allows you to trust it.
- Accuracy - up to date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive, audience and purpose reflect intentions of completeness and accuracy. Goal: a source that is correct today (not yesterday), a source that gives the whole truth.
- Reasonableness - fair, balanced, objective, reasoned, no conflict of interest, absence of fallacies or slanted tone. Goal: a source that engages the subject thoughtfully and reasonably, concerned with the truth.
- Support - listed sources, contact information, available corroboration, claims supported, documentation supplied. Goal: a source that provides convincing evidence for the claims made, a source you can triangulate (find at least two other sources that support it).
Examples of the GOOD and the BAD: Would you use these in a college paper?
Driving While Impaired
YES! Useful legal information from the NC Department of Health and Safety. URL is a .org site.Excellent source of information from government agency.
Texting and Driving
NO! Example of Poor Credibility Site: Statistics are not cited clearly and dated. Site has a commercial URL. Contact is a personal gmail account. Ads show up. This is not a cite you would want to use!
The Killing On The Roads
YES! Scholarly tull text article from 2020. Found by search database using terms teenagers/drinking and driving. Article is in depth, written by an expert, and includes citations. No cost to you!
Effects of Texting and Driving
YES! This is a scholarly article from a journal so the information is credible. Unfortunately you have to pay to access the full text. Better alternative: contact your Librarian and we will get it for you at no cost. Better yet - use the Library databases for full text articles.
C is for Credibility
Can you trust this site?
Who wrote it? Is that person or organization reputable? An Authority? What is his/her background or credentials?
What organization sponsored the site? Look at the domain names. Is it .org, .edu, .gov, .com? Domains can be an indication of authority.
Tip: Dig for information under About Us or similar link. Click on the author's name to see more information.
If you can't find who wrote it, don't trust it.
A is for Accuracy
Is the information correct and up to date?
When was it last updated?
Are there broken links?
Tip: Be on the lookout for broken links, misspelled words or lack of quality control.
Examples of Different Domains
Only official U.S. government websites will have addresses that end in “.gov.” Information such as Census statistics, Congressional hearings, and Supreme Court rulings are included.
Educational institution. Sites using this domain name are schools ranging from kindergarten to higher education. Information from sites within this domain must be examined very carefully. If it is from a department or research center at a educational institution, it can generally be taken as credible. However, students' personal Web sites are not usually monitored by the school even though they are on the school's server and use the .edu domain.
If you use a non-profit organization's site, think about the organization's agenda and how it's likely to influence the way they present information. There are no restrictions on .ORG domain names. Anyone can register, and the domain can be used for any purpose.
Commercial site. The information provided by commercial interests is generally going to shed a positive light on the product it promotes. While this information might not necessarily be false, you might be getting only part of the picture. Remember, there's a monetary incentive behind every commercial site in providing you with information, whether it is for good public relations or to sell you a product outright.
Stands for network...There are all kinds of sites under this domain suffix. Information from these sites should be given careful scrutiny.
R is for Reasonableness
What is the purpose of the site? Mission of the organization?
Is the Information fair, balanced, objective, and correct?
Is the information one-sided or slanted?
Is it consistent? Is there a conflict of interest?
Tip: Look out for the tone of the language and sweeping statements or inflamatory words (hate, stupid, sucks, etc.)
S is for Support
Does the site indicate sources of support for its information?
Where do statistics come from?
What documentation of sources is included?
Is there a bibliography or links to other sources?
Are there contacts listed?
Tip: Beware of statistics or facts with no reference to a source.