Chapter 8: Gathering Research and Establishing Evidence
Thanks to the internet, all kinds of information is available to us 24/7. We can find out what’s going on instantly on social media or with a quick Google search. However, this quick and easy access to information creates the false belief that the information we find is accurate and that all information is free. Scholarly and evidence-based information is not free. In fact, university libraries pay millions of dollars each year to subscribe to academic journals and databases and to purchase scholarly books for your research needs. Remember, as a student you have a unique privilege to access expensive information to which the general public does not have easy access. Moreover, scholarly and other types of information that contain extensive research take time to produce, as evidence must be gathered, analyzed, and reviewed by experts.
When considering different types of information for your paper, it’s important to recognize how creation process influences that information. Some information sources go through reviews and editing that make it more credible for your research. This list below represents how the progression of information is connected to information sources:
Watch Video 8.1 on the creation of information following an event and then read the following text.
- The event happens:
- Social Media gives us instant access to what’s happening, but it is often emotional and biased. It might contain little to no analysis or verification of what is actually happening.
- The next day
- News media gives us a breakdown of the event and verification from authorities of what happened. While there may be some analysis, there is no in-depth, big picture analysis yet.
- The following weeks
- Popular sources like magazines and news documentaries publish their reports. While there is more analysis of why it happened, popular sources likes these do not contain evidence-based research.
- Months later
- Scholars are starting to research the event using their subject area’s lens.
- It will be months before a study is published because of the amount of time it takes to conduct extensive research, write the paper, and submit it to an academic journal, where it must be reviewed by peers who may recommend the article be revised before it can be published.
- Articles written by scholars offer the most in-depth analysis of the event and the information is double-checked for bias and error.
- More than one year later
- Books are written on the topic.
- Such books can vary from
- firsthand accounts by those affected, to
- easy-to-read and sensational books for the general public, and finally, to
- academic books where a professor might take her scholarly article and expand it into a book.