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Technology Research

Fact and Opinion

When writing for a business or academic audience, it is important that you provide sources to back up your claims, and that you base your claims on information that is fact, rather than opinion. 

Fact: Two-factor authentication means using a password and another method of authentication, such as a token or biometric scan, in order to gain access to an account or system. 

Opinion: Biometric scans are the most secure type of authentication. 

Opinions might be hard to spot sometimes, but there are a few questions to ask yourself when evaluating the information you find to help you make the distinction.

  1. Is this statement easily disputed/is there a counter argument to be made?
  2. What is the source for this statement?
  3. Is the source reputable? 

This is not an exhaustive list, but a reminder to pause and think about what you are reading before taking it at face value. If someone makes a declarative statement, and does not provide data or additional sources to back up their claim, it is worth examining further before accepting it as fact. 

Comparison of Types of Journals

The information below can help you understand the differences between scholarly journals, professional/trade journals, and popular periodicals. 

​Peer Reviewed = Scholarly?  Not always. Scholarly implies an academic audience whereas some non-scholarly works can undergo editorial review or review by peers.
Comparison of Scholarly, Professional, and Popular Periodicals
Criteria Scholarly Journals Professional/Trade Journals Popular Periodicals/ Magazines
Audience Researchers and experts Members of a trade or profession The general public
Author Researchers and experts Staff writers and experts in the field Staff writers, although many articles are unsigned
References (Sources cited) Includes reference lists and bibliography. All quotes and facts are documented. Reference lists sometimes included. References rarely included.
Purpose To disseminate research findings  To publicize current topics in the field and professional issues To disseminate general information or to entertain
Content Detailed research reports and methodologies  Trends, standards, and new technologies in the field General interest stories and news; may include personal narrative and opinions
Language Jargon that assumes expertise in the field Jargon that assumes expertise in the field Language that requires no expertise
Publisher Associations or universities Associations Commercial organizations
Layout Highly structured organization; includes abstract, bibliography, charts or graphs Structured organization; usually includes abstract, bibliography, charts or graphs Informal organization: eye-catching type and format; includes illustrations or photographs
Examples Journal of the American Medical Association; Political Science Quarterly Hospital Business Week; Real Estate Weekly News; Farm Industry News Time; Newsweek; Science News