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1.5.7 Referencing

We mentioned above that we need to reference sources to ensure we abide by copyright legislation. But there is another reason we need to give accurate references to items we use – so we can share it.

Consider this scenario. A friend says they’ve just read an interesting article where Joshua Schachter, founder of Delicious has spoken about why it isn’t a faceted search system, and you should read it. How would you go about finding it? Would you start looking in a news database, a s
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1.5.6 Copyright – what you need to know

An original piece of work, whether it is text, music, pictures, sound recordings, web pages, etc., is protected by copyright law and may often have an accompanying symbol (©) and/or legal statement. In the UK it is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which regulates this.

In most circumstances, works protected by copyright can be used in whole or in part only with the permission of the owner. In some cases this permission results in a fee.

However, the UK legislation incl
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1.5.5 Social bookmarks

If you find you have a long unmanageable list of favourites/bookmarks you might like to try social bookmarks as an alternative.

Activity – what you need to know about social bookmarks

Read 7 things you should know about socia
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1.5.4 The 5 Ds

If you don’t use a system at all, then you could suffer from the effects of information overload:

  • losing important information

  • wasting time on trying to find things

  • ending up with piles of physical and virtual stuff everywhere

One technique you might like to apply to your files (be they paper or electronic) is the 5Ds. Try applying these and see if you can reduce your information overload.


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1.5.3 Desktop search tools

Finding your paperwork or electronic files can be a problem. You may find that even if you do have some sort of filing system, your structure soon gets quite large with files in multiple locations, which can be hard to navigate. You may find yourself making arbitrary decisions about which folder to place a document in. It may make sense now but in the future, when you look where you think it should be, it’s not there.

At times like this you may resort to the search command from the Wi
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1.5.2 Ways of organising yourself

How do you organise yourself?

Activity

Make a note of how you organise your:

  • emails

  • internet bookmarks or favorites

  • computer files

  • your h
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1.5.1 Why is it important to be organised?

  • 87% of items that are filed into a filing cabinet are never looked at again. STANFORD UNIVERSITY

  • In 2010, the world’s digital information output was estimated to pass 1.2zettabytes – A zettabyte is a new term which equals a thousand billion gigabytes. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA (BERKELEY)

  • A new blog is created every second. TECHNORATI

  • 10% of salary costs are wasted as
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1.4.8 Summary

In this section we have introduced you to the PROMPT checklist as a useful tool for assessing the quality of any piece of information. If you use it regularly you will find that you develop the ability to scan information quickly and identify strengths and weaknesses. As a closing exercise you might like to pick one of the websites below or any of your own choice and try to evaluate it using the PROMPT criteria. To make it easier for you we have provided a printable checklist (see below).


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1.4.7 T is for Timeliness

The date when information was produced or published can be an important aspect of quality. This is not quite as simple as saying that 'good' information has to be up to date.

Activity

Here is an example of a news item from an onli
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1.4.6 P is for Provenance

The provenance of a piece of information (i.e. who produced it? where did it come from?) may provide another useful clue to its reliability. It represents the 'credentials' of a piece of information that support its status and perceived value. It is therefore very important to be able to identify the author, sponsoring body or source of your information.

Why is this important?

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1.4.5 M is for Method

Method is about the way in which a piece of information is produced. This is quite a complex area as different types of information are produced in different ways. These are a few suggestions to look out for:

Opinions – A lot of information is based on the opinion of individuals. They may or not be experts in their field (see P for Provenance) but the key message is to be clear that it is just an opinion and must be valued as such.

Research – You don’t have t
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1.4.4 O is for Objectivity

One of the characteristics of ‘good’ information is that it should be balanced and present both sides of an argument or issue. This way the reader is left to weigh up the evidence and make a decision. In reality, we recognise that no information is truly objective.

This means that the onus is on you, the reader, to develop a critical awareness of the positions represented in what you read, and to take account of this when you interpret the information. In some cases, authors may be
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1.4.3 R is for Relevance

Relevance is an important factor to consider when you are evaluating information. It isn’t so much a property of the information itself but of the relationship it has with your question or your ‘information need’. For example, if you are writing an essay about how Finnish relates to other Indo-European languages, a book or website about teaching Japanese in British schools would not be relevant. So there are a number of ways in which a piece of information may not be relevant to your qu
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1.4.2 P is for Presentation

By presentation, we mean, the way in which the information is communicated. You might want to ask yourself:

  • Is the language clear and easy to understand?

  • Is the information clearly laid out so that it is easy to read?

  • Are the fonts large enough and clear?

  • Are the colours effective? (e.g. white or yellow on black can be difficult to read)

  • If there are graphics or photos, do they help
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1.4.1 PROMPT

There is so much information available on the internet on every topic imaginable. But how do you know if it is any good? And if you find a lot more information than you really need, how do you decide what to keep and who to discard?

In this section we are going to introduce a simple checklist to help you to judge the quality of the information you find. Before we do this, spend a few minutes thinking about what is meant by information quality.

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1.3.10 Summary

There is a lot of information available on Modern Languages via the internet. Try the activity below to start exploring what is available.

Activity

1.3.9 Choosing the right tool for the job

Before searching it is always a good idea to check what the source you have chosen covers to make sure it will unearth information that matches your search need (you will notice that all the resources we’ve covered in this guide have short descriptions to enable you to decide which to use). Some of the decision makers, depending on the context of your search might be:

  • Does it have full text?

  • Does it cover the right subject?


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1.3.8 Internet resources

There are many websites where you will find useful information about modern languages. With all information on the internet you need to make a judgement on the reliability of the information.

BBC Languages
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1.3.7 Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias can be useful reference texts to use to start your research. There are some available online, such as:

Wikipedia A freely available collaborative encyclopedia.
Encyclopedia Br
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1.3.6 Journals

Journals and articles written by academics or experts are an excellent source of information. Journals are usually published monthly or quarterly, and contain a selection of articles providing details of recent research. Often they will also contain reviews of relevant books. They are usually published more quickly than books, and so are often more up to date.

To access content of journals, most publishers require a subscription. There are, however, some journals which you can freely ac
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