First Year Writing Research Guide

Investigate the source

Next, INVESTIGATE the source:

Don’t rely on what the source says about itself in an “About Us” section, instead open multiple browser tabs and start looking into what others have said about the source:

  • In one tab, you might look up your source in Wikipedia.
  • In another tab, Google your source and consider what other sites say about the source. Open each site in a new tab so you can move from one to the next, comparing information.
  • Start  piecing together different bits of information from across the web to get a better picture of the source. 
  • Carefully read and consider everything you read about the original source.

You don’t have to do a three-hour investigation, but if you’re reading a piece on economics, and the author is a Nobel prize-winning economist, that would be useful information. Likewise, if you’re watching a video on the many benefits of milk consumption, you would want to be aware if the video was produced by the dairy industry.

This doesn’t mean the Nobel economist will always be right and that the dairy industry can’t ever be trusted, but knowing the expertise and agenda of the person who created the source is crucial to your use of the information provided.