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UNIV 201 - Global Challenges Inquiry 1

What is Authority?

Authority related to the author/creators credibility and expertise

  • Question to ask: Is the author an expert in the field? Do they appear to have degrees in this area? Are they working with/for a university?

Authority also includes the credibility and reliability of the research process used in the creation of the work and how it meets your research need.

  • Question to ask: Where did I find this information? Was it in a reliable resource? Does it have the all components of a good research?
  • Question to ask: How does this help me with my research need or question? 

In most academic disciplines you want to look for authority by checking:

  • Work that has been published in a scholarly resource (i.e. Peer Reviewed Journal)
  • Information about the authors' credentials and degrees and/or affiliation with an institution
  • Articles that are longer (at least 10 pages) and include components like: abstract, keywords, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and references
  • The resource uses specialized language

In some disciplines (e.g. Law, Education, Business) you may look for: 

  • Resources written by experts in the field
  • Experts may not always have academic credentials but are usually experienced practitioners in the field (e.g. teachers, lawyers, business leaders)
  • Information from scholarly (but not always peer-reviewed) sources such as trade publications
  • Work uses specialized language
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Does this meet my need?

How can I be sure that this information meets my need?

Think about your research question, problem or general information need, and then consider the following:

  • Authority and Credibility
  • How long ago was it published? Is it still useful or relevant?
  • Look for points of view and bias. Is it affecting the bottom line? How you can use it?
  • All all the research components there? Can we trust that the research is accurate?
  • Coverage: Does this deal with a large part of my need or just one small aspect?


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