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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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1.3.5 Images

Images can also be found online. Some useful Image databases are:

Flickr The Arts and Humanities Data Service is a national service setup to collect, describe, and preserve the electronic resources which result from research and teaching in the humanities. It encourages scholarly use of
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1.3.4 Databases

At a basic level, a database is a collection of information which can be searched. It is a way of storing, indexing, organising and retrieving information. You may have created one yourself to keep track of your references – or your friends' names and addresses. They are useful for finding articles on a topic, and can be used to search for many different types of information.

You may find some of the following databases useful for your topic. They contain different types of informatio
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1.3.3 Books and electronic books

Books are a good source of information. The publishing process (where a book is checked by an editor before publishing, and often reviewed by another author) means that books are reliable sources of information, although they may need to be evaluated for bias. A growing number of books can be found online.

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1.3.2 Search engines and subject gateways

Although search engines and subject gateways will help you find the resources that you need, the types of information that you find will differ.

Search engines such as Google and Yahoo! search the internet for keywords or phrases, and then show you the results. These results are not mediated by the search engines, and therefore you need to use your own judgement on the reliability of the results. You may, for example, find websites written by experts, alongside websites written by someo
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1.3.1 Introduction

You can find a lot of information about Modern Languages on the internet.

To find this information you might choose to use:

  • search engines and subject gateways;

  • books and electronic books;

  • databases;

  • journals;

  • encyclopedias.


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Checklist of common features

  • Is there any online help?

  • Can I do a simple search?

  • Can I look at the information in both short and detailed form?

  • Can I choose where in the record I want my search terms to be found?

  • Can I search for phrases?

  • Can I combine search terms?

  • Can I use truncation?

  • Can I use wildcards?

  • Can I do an advanced search?

  • Can I get a list
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1.2.3 Basic principles

Whatever resource you choose to use to find information on the internet, many of the same principles apply. Each source that you use will probably look quite different from the one you tried before, but you'll notice that there are always features that are similar – a box to type your search terms in, for instance, or a clickable help button. Different resources refer to the same functions using different terminology, but the principles behind them are exactly the same. The trick is to chec
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1.1.5 Organising information

How confident are you that you know when it is appropriate to cite references (refer to the work of other people) in your written work?

  • 5 – Very confident

  • 4 – Confident

  • 3 – Fairly confident

  • 2 – Not very confident

  • 1 – Not confident at all

How confident do you feel about producing bibliographies (lists of references) in an appropriate format to accompany you
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1.1.4 Evaluating information

How well does the following statement describe your approach to evaluating the information that you use?

When I come across a new piece of information (e.g. a website, newspaper article) I consider the quality of the information, and based on that I decide whether or not to use it.

  • 5 – This is an excellent match; this is exactly what I do


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1.1.3 Searching for information on Modern Languages

How well does the following statement match what you do when you begin a new search for information?

Before I begin a new search for information (maybe for an assignment, or to help you choose your next holiday destination), I spend some time thinking about what I already know, what the gaps in my knowledge are, and the best types of information to meet my needs.

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1.1.2 Key resources

When you need to find information in Modern Languages, how confident are you that you know the best places to search (e.g. search engines, subject gateways, online databases etc.) to find the information you need?

  • 5 – Very confident

  • 4 – Confident

  • 3 – Fairly confident

  • 2 – Not very confident

  • 1 – Not confident at all

How familiar are you with journal artic
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