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Extended Essay: Authority

A guide to the research and writing process required for students completing the IB Extended Essay.

The CRAAP Test

Piece of paper tied with red ribbon - Britannica ImageQuestAuthority:  The source of the information

  • Who is the author / publisher / source / sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations? 
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • (If you are using the web:) Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples:  .com, .edu, .gov, .org, .net

On this page you can learn:

What 'content farms' are and why you need to watch out for them
How to think about whether a website has authority (an example)

Watch Out for Content Farms!

A content farm is a website that contains very large quantities of content, typically of low quality or aggregated from other sites, generated solely to ensure that it appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

When doing research you need to stay away from content farms, since these sites will often consist entirely of plagiarized material of questionable value.  Check out the example below.

What's suspicious about this site?

  • The letter spacing indicates that they have copy-pasted from pdf files, which tends to create extra spaces within words. . This would tend to imply that the material is stolen from online encyclopedias, dubious education business sites, and other commercial sites.
  • The statistics and population data in individual articles is from the mid- to late-1990s - more than fifteen years old.
  • If you try a search on a partial quote from an article, for example, the phrase "the word "Afghan" historically has been used to designate the members of an ethnic group also called the Pashtuns" from the Afghanistan article, you will get the 'echo-chamber' effect:  lots of 'spammy' sites with the exact same quote.
  • The site's plagiarized content is on a commonly searched curriculum topic (countries and cultures), but seems to exist for the owner only as a source of revenue.  Pages feature lots of ads in the most prominent places on each page.
  • And if that's not enough to make you suspicious...the owner of the site, Advamet, Inc., has a 'F' rating from the Better Business Bureau!

"Content Farm." Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford UP, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2015. 
     <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/ 
     content-farm?q=%22content+farm%22>.

Does this site have authority?

Click on the link to this site and take some time to look around. 

What do you think?  Do you think this site includes authoritative information?  Does the link to current research give any information that would be useful to quote in a research paper?

Beware! Information may look accurate but could in fact be completely fabricated!  Always check the information you are using comes from an authoritative source.  

         

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