Guest Media 21 Student Post: A Sophomore Reflects on Using LinkedIn to Vet an Author’s Credibility

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Guest Author’s Note:  In the beginning of the year, students in Mrs. Lester’s 10th Lit/Comp Honors class completed an online information literacy/research skills course.  Throughout this course, the students learned many new 21st century skills that would help them in their research projects during the year.  In this post, I reflect on a tool I used to determine the credibility of a source:

Throughout my sophomore year in 10th Lit/Comp Honors class, I have been exposed to many new ideas; however, one of the most useful and advanced ideas that I have been shown are strategies for  evaluating information sources.  When Ms. Hamilton and Mrs. Lester first started my class with online information evaluation lessons, I learned new ways (besides ensuring that the source is from a database) to effectively evaluate the credibility of a source.  For example, one method includes researching the credentials of the author of the source.  If the author has been educated and/or has a long career in the subject area that he/she discusses in the source, the source shows more credibility of being reliable.  In my most recent group research project on Traumatic Brain Injury, I used LinkedIn, a professional networking site, to evaluate one of my sources.

The source is an article that discusses the outlook on Traumatic Brain Injury from the opinion of Elizabeth Snodgrass.  Before I took notes on the information in this article, I wanted to ensure the credibility of the information.  Using one of the many methods that I had learned earlier this year in class, I decided to check the credentials of the author, Elizabeth Snodgrass.  I searched “Elizabeth Snodgrass education” in the search engine Google.  When one of the first results came up as a site from LinkedIn, I immediately clicked on that site because I remembered that LinkedIn is a useful resource from my information evaluation lessons.  Even though I was not a member of LinkedIn, I could still see some of the information on Snodgrass: she was educated at Bowdoin College (a legitimate liberal arts and science college in Maine), and she has held the position of Senior Researcher at National Geographic Society since 2003.  Even though I could not view what type of degree in what subject area she received at Bowdoin College, I deduced that the article she had composed on the outlook on Traumatic Brain Injury is credible because of her attendance at Bowdoin College and her long career as a researcher.  By using an evaluation technique on this article, I had ensured that the information in my project would be more accurate.  All of the evaluation techniques, especially tools for vetting the authority of an author, that I learned in this class have helped me compose more successful research projects.

M.R.

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