November 18, 2017

Principles for Research

Reliable Research Tips for Graduate Students

Information: Is It Reliable?

Information is not difficult to find. Search engines utilize web databases, reviewers’ blogs and RSS feeds. Practicing research techniques that help you become adept at locating the information you need is easy. But how do you know if the information is accurate or relevant?

So, we need an understanding of the diversity of information sources, which are largely developed through varied beliefs and influenced by social interactions.

To simplify, the information sources must be evidence-based science, innovative technological facts, non-biased ethical standards, and stem from global mindfulness. Below is a list of 5 ways to determine if the information you are gathering is reliable and timely.

1. Examine Sources

  • Issue: Where are people getting their information?
  • Solution: Use only credible sources

2. Reliable Tech Innovation

  • Issue: Are splash page reporting on emerging technologies really in the marketplace?
  • Solution: Investigate if the technological innovations are actual or theoretical.

3. Evidence-based Science

  • Issue: Are the scientific discoveries evidenced or advertising gimmicks?
  • Solution: Investigate if the scientists have published their research findings in credible publications.  Anyone can make a claim.

4. Original Ideas and Experience

  • Issue: Accountability in using other’s ideas for your projects.
  • Solution: Build upon original works and give credit to the originator and go out in the real world and experience your ideas first hand.

5. Invention

  • Issue: Invention is an engineering solution and must be novel and reliable.
  • Solution: Invention is a term that is both practical and conceptual. An inventor can be the originator and/or an innovator. Innovators build off what is already in the marketplace. Inventive leaders think about and adopt reliable and lasting solutions, until a new solution comes about.

The above five bullet points are tenets I apply in my own research and teaching.  In fact, information gathering and assimilating has become a bit of “telephone tag.” To resolve this, be proactive in obtaining information from reliable sources and pass them on with credit to the originators.

Here are a few facts that might cause all of us to pause: “According to the poll, conducted by Don Bates of The George Washington University:

  • “89 percent of reporters and editors turn to blogs for story research”
  • “65 percent look to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn”
  • “52 percent use microblogging sites like Twitter”
  • “61 percent use Wikipedia.” (Adler, n.d.).

Is Bates’ information reliable? To find out, I would need to go directly to GWU and look for scholarly articles written or published by Bates. I did and it was. But this is only the first step because the second step would be to find other statistics on the same topic from other sources to compare.

In the end, the onus is on us to do our own due diligence and get the facts straight! Difficult? Not too much. It can be a fun challenge.

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