Author Topic: Addressing Source Reliability with Students  (Read 1887 times)

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Offline brennaw

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Addressing Source Reliability with Students
« on: April 24, 2020, 03:35:10 PM »
One thing I've noticed when teaching ESL writing to graduate students is that, when they're working on research papers, it's very hard for some students to really assess the reliability of their sources. There are a lot of challenges even when working only with journal articles - not all journal websites are easy to navigate, nor is it always easy to find on their websites what their review process really looks like, especially with smaller journals.


As such, I've often had students push back a little bit about the need to investigate source reliability for their research papers! Some of them will tell me that if it's published in a peer reviewed journal, it's fine.

This article, published by Gizmodo, talks about two journal articles that were deliberately written to be awful, and discusses how the authors successfully managed to get these articles that easily should have been caught by a peer review process published... in supposedly peer reviewed journals!


One of the articles is very silly - it's titled "What's the deal with birds?" - and one is seemingly more serious, but was deliberately written to have ethical and methodological holes. I think these two can be combined into a good activity to help motivate students to investigate reliability further. The sillier article can be used as a warm up, maybe asking students to evaluate the quality of the article - before revealing that it was a 'successfully published' article. Students can also be asked to investigate the author and their qualifications to talk about birds, the reputation of the journal, and so on. This could also be a chance to segue into different tools students might need when determining source reliability for their research writing.