Source evaluation is a necessary step preceding the adoption of information into academic report. Researchers are charged with the responsibility to establish the legitimacy of information sources to ensure that their work is not compromised. The value of references is extended to subject reports so that illegitimate sources render an article less scholastic. Therefore, internet accessible digitized collections and physical libraries of unpublished are subject to credibility evaluation processes concerning identification of authors, domains, and objectives as well as the assessment such qualities for professionalism.
The internet provides an opportunity to access digitized collections. However, ease to publish online sources creates an academics dilemma since the chances of accessing unreliable content is very high. Therefore, an evaluation of resource credibility is necessary and considers a keen observation of specific characteristics. First and foremost, a researcher should prefer websites that contain the domain names .edu, .ac and .gov since the signify affiliation to credible institutions (Storey, 2015). The listed domains are obtained through organizations that possess some level of legitimacy by virtue of government recognition. Such organizations are accountable but not necessarily valid sources if specialization is needed and the website is not specifically concerned with specific interests. Researchers are encouraged to engage in further evaluation to identify other attributes and recognize specific characteristics of content originators. The contributors to a digitalized collection should be identifies within subject websites. Access to author information allows the next step of source evaluation. The name should be used in follow ups concerning such individuals so that where authors are authorities in the specific subject then the source gains credibility (Storey, 2015). The third factor concerns the availability of publication in print. The websites that are also available in print are more credible sources of digitalized collections (Storey, 2015). Other critical assessment steps include visiting the website headquarters to identify hardcopies, studying the objectivity of content, and searching references in the website (Storey, 2015).
Archival collections of unpublished sources provide another interesting source of information. Unpublished sources provide a lot of valuable information but the verification of such is a concern. Therefore, a researcher is encouraged to participate in pre-access, during access, and after access processes of source evaluation. Prior to visiting an archive, an extensive study of related secondary sources should be undertaken, comparison to WorldCat findings and consideration of archivist contribution are crucial (Presnell, 2013). The mentioned activities allow the research to develop an understanding of credible information and distinguish the same from non-academically admissible reports. Preparedness and organization skills are assets. The researcher should carry acceptable stationeries (non-ink stationeries), prioritize a study plan, involve an archivist, and update a report of findings in a progressive manner (Presnell, 2013). Lack of preparedness causes time wastage while the absence of an intricate study plan is an ingredient for irrelevant report writing. The lack of priorities creates a situation where researchers lose focus when assessing unpublished source. Continued consultation with an archivist allows an individual to identify non-credible information. Additionally, post access scrutiny is crucial. After access evaluation concerns further consultations of specialists and archives.
In conclusion, the availability of numerous sources of information of verifiable and non-verifiable legitimacy presents the need to engage in a process of critical evaluation. Internet accessible digitized collections and physical availability of archival collections of unpublished sources can be studied to establish legitimacy prior to incorporation into academic reports. Informed authors and affiliation to responsible entities are preferred qualities of digitized collections. Similarly, it is a priority to ascertain the sources of unpublished content preceding its institution as academically valid.
Presnell, J. (2013). The information-literate historian. 2nd ed. New York City: Oxford University Press.
Storey, W. (2015). Writing history. 5th ed. New York City: Oxford University Press.
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