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Chapter 19. Cast a Critical Eye > An Embarrassment of Riches - Pg. 214

Cast a Critical Eye 214 An Embarrassment of Riches Evaluating sources is nothing new; writers have always had to assess the reference material they find. But courtesy of the new electronic search techniques and burgeoning Internet resources, the task has taken on a new urgency. In the good old days, a writer only needed to consider the quality of books, magazines, and journal articles; now, printed matter is just the beginning of the information available to the researcher. Further, in the past, editors, publishers, and librarians chose much of the material we could expect to find. Today, however, most online sources haven't been evaluated at all, so it's all in our hands. Besides, you can access everything online from the comfort of your own home. As a result, much of what you see won't even make it to the library's shelves. Author! Author! The average professional (that's you! ) is required to read about four million words a month--that's 50 million words a year. In the medical profession alone, more than 10 thousand professional journals are published yearly. What does this mean for you? It means that before you decide to use any source, you have to judge its reliability, credibility, and appropriateness. Here's how to do it. Writer's Block Just because a source appears in print, in the media, or online doesn't mean it's valid. As you gather your sources, give them all the once over--and more than once. Use the following criteria as you determine whether a source is valid for inclusion in your research paper: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Authority Source Timeliness Bias Purpose Appropriateness Let's look at each criterion in detail.