Reading laterally on recent studies

Today we are spending some time talking about those studies you researched and planning for your final project.

According to a recent study…

For your 4th blog post, I asked you to go upstream on a news report that cites a recent study. There were a number of news stories to choose from in the headlines.

  • What did you choose?
  • How did your searches go? What tools did you use to locate your study?
  • Did you “accurately summarize the state of research and the consensus of experts in a given area, taking into account majority and significant minority views” as Caulfield suggests?  
  • Was this difficult?

Often you are not in a position to critically read original scholarly research because it takes many years to develop the knowledge and literacies required to become an expert. That’s one of the reasons you are in college. This expertise can be observed if you try to pick up a journal from any given field. What makes these journals really credible, however, is the process of peer review.

Yet, for all of the credibility peer-reviewed journals muster, sometimes these journals are not even immune to the effects of filter bubbles or the spread of misinformation. Consider the article, “The Case for Colonialism,” which was published in Third World Quarterly in 2017, which argued that our racist, oppressive moments in world history were overall beneficial to humans, or the “Grievance Studies” hoax that was widely reported on in the news in October 2018, which infiltrated identity-based scholarship.

If you do some quick searching to find out about how this was received by the wider academic community, you’ll find some interesting results about these journals and the authors. Although these are a rare cases, they do explain why is it important — for all researchers — to check previous work, go upstream, and read laterally.

Scaling up for Truth-o-meter

By now you’ve written four posts. For your 5th, you’ll draft your Truth-o-meter post. This requires preparing to scale up from shorter, 500-word posts to one larger post of about 1,000 words. How? If you look back at the rubric, you’ll notice that your fact-checks must do 3 main things:

  • Tell readers about the source & the fact(s) [20-25% of the post]. How did you encounter this source? Is it news? Opinion? Why might readers care? How would you summarize this source? Which piece of info do you focus on in your research and why?
  • Narrate your research process [60-70% of the post]. Tell readers what happened as you went through Caulfield’s moves, but also how and why you approached them the way you did. Be clear about your search terms, describe nearly every move you made (I right clicked on x…), and detail your process so readers know exactly how you found your info (“Before I dove into the study, I used Google to read laterally to find out a little more about…”). And of course, link to or embed sources whenever appropriate.
  • Discuss your findings in terms of consensus [10-25%]. If finding consensus was beyond your ability or scope, then you might simply say why in your discussion, as I did in my example below.

Activity: Look at the example of my fact-check on a recent study (“Example” under the Unit 2 menu). Talk with your group about the bullets above. Do you notice these three parts in the example? What do you see in the sentences/moves/language/structure that you can use in your own post?

Workshopping ideas for the Truth-o-meter post

Activity: In your group, decide what it would take to make your assigned source a good choice for a final Truth-o-meter post. What would you have to do? Explain this in terms of length of the post, the rubric, and the three bullets above. Start writing it together.


Homework for next week

WordPress Post #5: Publish a draft your Truth-o-meter post.

Note: Although I highly encourage you to visit the Writing Center next week, I am happy to provide feedback on this draft. If you want to receive feedback from me, I will need your draft no later than the Monday of Spring Break (3/18). To get feedback:

  1. Post your fact-check to your WordPress site, AND paste it into a new Google Doc in your WRT Drive folder with an appropriate title (i.e “DRAFT Truthometer”).
  2. Share the Doc with me or email me and let me know if you are interested in getting feedback. I’ll use your Google Doc version to add comments.
  3. If certain elements don’t convert from WP to Docs just put a note in your Doc that I should look at the WP post. Help me out by adding the link to your WP post at the top of this Doc so I can access that easily.