Pivotal

Contextualising Sources

hgf How to interpret different types of information sources:

It’s important to question the independence of sources and data sets used to comprehend and remedy societal problems, as poor understanding due to inadequate evidence could lead to policies causing more harm than good.

Furthermore, data and information may be presented in a manner that can be confusing and/or taken out of context of a wider body of research. Thus, identifying the original sources of data can be an important step in understand how conclusions were informed, while also identifying any potential conflicts of interest within the authors.

For example, the findings may be influenced by political or financial sponsorship.

Academic Papers:

Academic papers may be written by an individual or group of researchers on broader societal questions, linked to the researcher’s area of expertise. Moreover, academic writers are explicitly asked to declare any areas of conflict that may influence their views.

Academic papers aim to detail knowledge and understanding of a given topic using critical and evaluative perspectives.

These sources are often highly credible if they have been published in a reliable, peer-reviewed academic journal.

Informative Reports:

Reports are often published in order to synthesise a variety of data and analyse areas of interest.

Private companies, collectives of researchers, political activists and think tanks may publish reports on a variety of topics. For example, environmental issues or factors that contribute to poverty.

They aim to provide clear information about specific situations, which enable sensible decision-making. However, published reports are not peer reviewed and therefore their findings may lack the credibility of a more in-depth academic paper.

Published reports may be influenced by political ideology and/or the views of those funding the report.

Case Studies:

Typically, this is a qualitative and descriptive piece, which frequently contains narrative elements in order to explore issues and events.

The function of case studies is usually to illuminate a larger general theme as part of a longer, research orientated piece of writing.

Date vs. Information vs. Knowledge:

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