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ENGL 202C: Effective Writing: Technical Writing

The Criteria

One way to quickly evaluate the information in front of you is to consider the "3 C's":

Credibility (their expertise makes your paper more authoritative)

  • Who is the author? (okay to "Google" them)
  • What makes them an expert on this subject?
  • Is the author's intention to educate (share knowledge) or persuade?

Content

  • Is it good enough for college-level research? Or is it too basic? Too "scholarly" (assume a level of understanding beyond your grasp)?
  • Does it provide you with new knowledge?
  • Does it support or challenge what you already know about the subject?

Currency

  • Is it current enough for your research needs? Or could you likely find something more recent?
  • Does it provide you with an accurate snapshot of the time? Fill in blanks of recent events? Provide a history or synthesis of relevant information?
  • Remember, currency is relative:

Newspapers = published every day or weekly
Magazines = published weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly
Scholarly Journals = published quarterly (on average)
Books = take a year or more to write, publish, and distribute
Statistics = often take a year or more to collect, analyze, publish, and distribute