Have you ever watched or participated in a debate

Have you ever watched or participated in a debate? Typically both sides in a debate are very passionate about their viewpoints. Have you ever taken a moment to try to understand what sources or evidence have helped the different sides formulate their thinking? Our views and opinions are formed by different experiences and perspectives. To be thorough in your research and achieve depth of understanding of a topic, you need to understand the varying perspectives of the debate. Different types of sources bring differing perspectives. From one type of source, you may understand the general public’s viewpoints on a topic, while from another type of source, you may find more in-depth expert research on a topic. These perspectives are all valuable in understanding the complexity of an issue.

Now it is your chance to explore all the different viewpoints on assigned topics. In this discussion you will complete a scavenger hunt of sources, and then consider each source’s value to your own research.

Instructions

  1. Choose the topic you wish to research for Modules 2 and 3. You may choose from the following topics: child labor, human trafficking, climate change and energy policy, OPEC, or space exploration. You will research this topic for all of the assignments and discussions in Modules 2 and 3.
  2. Learn the difference between scholarly and popular articles.
  3. Access the CCCOnline Library Databases to begin searching for sources. Try beginning your search in Academic Search Complete, as it is the widest searching, most complete database. However, you can search the more narrowly focused databases if you wish. For this discussion you will also need to search the internet for some sources, but please use the databases for as many as possible.
  4. Your goal is to find a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. For this discussion, you should find and read:

    • One book (You may skim the book, finding the most important ideas presented.)
    • One popular press article (A popular press article is one that is printed in a periodical intended for a general audience, such as TimeNewsweek, and National Geographic.)
    • Two scholarly articles (A scholarly article is one that is printed in a journal intended for a specific, expert audience; one of these articles should come from a peer-reviewed journal.)
    • One news source
    • One internet source
    • One non-traditional source (think about films, podcasts, TED Talks, etc.)
  5. Think: What voice do you hear in each of the sources you have found? Whose perspective does that voice represent? What does that voice add to your understanding of the larger conversation? Are some voices (sources) more credible than others? Are some voices more important than others?
  6. Write: In your initial post, you should list the sources’ titles, authors, periodical titles, and publish dates as appropriate to each source. Consider the rhetorical situation for each source (think specifically about the audience and purpose), and discuss how the source adds to your deeper understanding of the conversation. What is the research value of each of these types of sources?  

As I mentioned in the weekly news, this discussion is about evaluating sources.  All sources have a slant or bias.  Part of your job as a researcher is to figure out what that is and assess whether or not that impacts your decision to use that source in your paper.  For example, you wouldn’t want to quote one of the Macedonian fake news sites as a factual source.

(This is a very interesting article on those sites for those of you who are interested in the issue: “The Fake News Machine” )

On the other hand, if you were writing about fake news, citing them as an example would be almost mandatory.

Of course, not all sources are so cut and dry in terms of legitimacy.  This week, try to make your best judgment based on your reading of the details surrounding the writing of the sources you discover.

Note: your post should contain analysis of each source when you present that source as well as a wrap up paragraph that covers the value of the categories you explored.

Finally, be sure to include URLs for all sources you find online.

Discussion 2: Source Evaluation and Comparison

Overview

In research writing, your own credibility rests on the credibility of the sources you consult. If you use unreliable research, your own writing will be viewed as unreliable. In this discussion, you will evaluate sources for your research.

Instructions

  1. Research the same topic you began researching in Discussion 1. Access the CCCOnline Library Databases, and search for two sources with differing perspectives on your chosen topic that you believe will be useful to your research project. (You may use sources from your Source Scavenger Hunt.)
  2. Think: Use the resources from the Exploration page to help you evaluate each source. Consider the CRAP test.
  3. Write: In your initial post, write a short evaluation paragraph for each source. Then, write an additional paragraph where you compare the two sources based on your evaluations of the sources.
  4. Include a correctly formatted Works Cited entry for each source. Need help with MLA? 

This discussion builds on the previous discussion and goes a step further.  In addition to evaluating the sources you find, you will be comparing them.  Note, that comparing things customarily means explain their similarities.  For this discussion, I would also recommend contrasting your sources, which means detailing their differences, too.  In short, find your sources, tell me what you think about them, show me their similarities and differences, and decide what that means about their suitability as sources in an academic paper.

On another note, you you MUST use sources that come from the online library databases.  You can reuse sources you found in the scavenger hunger, but, again, those sources must come from the library.  That means, in general, your TED Talks and news posts are not appropriate sources for this discussion.  Academic journals are your safest bet.

You should also note that the the prompt advises you to consider the CRAP Test, which we covered in the module content.  While you do not necessarily need to go through the test point by point in your post (although you certainly could), you should be sure to address all the points the CRAP Test covers.

Finally, “differing perspectives” does NOT have to mean pro vs. con.  For example, if you are writing about human trafficking, you are not going to find a legitimate source that thinks human trafficking is a great idea.  What you can find are different assessments of causes, different solutions, and different experiences from writers.  All of these are very valid “differing perspectives.”

Discussion 3: Visual Perspectives

Overview

Visual media plays an important role in conversations today. As David McCandless claims in his TED Talk, “We’re all visualizers now; we’re all demanding a visual aspect to our information.” Much of our world is digitally and visually based, so many voices and perspectives in a conversation will also be visual.

In this discussion you will curate a small collection of visual resources on your topic and discuss the relevance and credibility of these resources.

Instructions

  1. Research the same topic you began researching in Discussions 1 and 2. Access the CCCOnline Library Databases and search for visual sources on your topic. Consider using photographs, charts and graphs, political cartoons, infographics, etc. (Hint: When you search Academic Search Complete, the results page will have a “Related Images” link on the right side of the page.) You may also search Google Images.
  2. Search for at least three visuals that communicate a clear perspective on your topic.
  3. Think: Consider the resources about visual rhetoric on the Exploration page. How do these images convey their purpose and perspective on the topic? Are they credible voices? Can you find the creator/author of the images? What is the value of each image to your research?
  4. WriteIn your post, share the links to the images you found with the class (be sure to create a Works Cited entry to give credit to the image’s creator). Write a paragraph for each image summarizing the message you believe the image is communicating and evaluating the credibility of the image as a resource. Finally, discuss how you would (or would not) use these images in your research.

In this discussion we turn our attention to sources that don’t rely on words to make their points.  As the material for the week notes, visual sources can be very powerful.  They can also, though, be very deceptive.  Evaluating visual sources for credibility is at least as important as evaluating text sources.  To help us do that, we always want to keep the question of “why did the author/creator do that?” forefront in our minds.  Answering that question will help us evaluate both a source’s credibility and suitability.

When you post your sources, be sure to include stable URLs.  I also recommend copying and pasting your images into your post to make things as easy on your reader as you can.

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