Once you have composed the research questions in Phase 1 of your PAT you must find resources that contain information regarding each research question. These sources must be evaluated, the intention is that you ensure that your research is based on “quality” information. This is an example of where planning ahead is important: you won’t be able to evaluate the authority of the author if you could not discover the author of a source that you have used!
You are required to evaluate 3 of your sources — two website sources and one source that is not a website. The Learner Guide provides you with examples of how to capture the information in a table:
|QUESTION 3: Website source|
|Authority||The ‘validity’ or ‘credentials’ of the publisher or author(s)|
who is this person: a scientist, doctor, professor?
|Currency||The date on which the material was published or updated|
|Accuracy||The correspondence of the information with other sources|
|Objectivity||Any presence of prejudice, bias, skewing of information, et cetera|
|Coverage||How extensively the material covers the topic|
If you were reading an article on the latest treatment for cancer, what would you expect the author to be? A hairdresser?
I have nothing against hairdressers, but if I were looking for information about cancer treatment, I would be looking for something written by a medical doctor, or more specifically: an oncologist.
If you were researching the latest CPU technology, would you bother with sources written last year? No chance: the latest AMD Ryzen chips are game-changers and are only just being released (Intel is so last year).
Compare your source to other sources dealing with the same subject material. If the information differs from information in other sources it is possible that your source is inaccurate. For example, if your source is presenting evidence that the Earth is flat, a quick Google should provide plenty of evidence the Earth is in fact a spherical shape.
A well-researched piece should provide an objective, balanced view on the subject matter. Subjective language will often contain emotive words and is an indication that bias is present.
Does the article deal with one specific aspect of the topic you are researching, or does it deal with many aspects of your topic?
Looking under every stone…
If you cannot find information such as the author of the website, consult the post Capturing full source details for your PAT for some tips!
Phase 1 completed! You are now ready to begin with Phase 2: the PAT Questionnaire.