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Writing Your Research Papers

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

Web Literacy: Four Moves and a Habit

Author Bias

Let's face it — there's a lot of information out there.  It can be difficult to determine how to evaluate and appropriately use information. 

When evaluating a resource, consider the assumptions of the author:

  • What is the perspective of the author; is it supported by evidence?
  • What type(s) of expertise does the author assume that the reader will have? 
  • Does the author's writing style persuade the reader to adopt a certain perspective on the topic?
  • Does the author use inflammatory language and/or have an agenda?
  • Is the author associated with commercial or organizational interests?

Let's look at an example.  You are interested in writing a paper on the growing popularity of vegetarianism and its impact on the agricultural industry.  

To make the process of evaluating authors' assumptions easier, please refer to this example of the kind of publications that might be helpful for this topic.



                  Vegetarian Times                                                      

 International Journal of Vegetable Science   

American Vegetable Grower    

Publication Title

Vegetarian   Times

International   Journal of Vegetable Science

American Vegetable Grower

Publication Type

Popular Magazine

Scientific Journal

Trade Publication


General audience; author does not presume previous exposure to the topic

Technical audience;   author assumes extensive background and expertise in the area of agricultural   science

Farmers and growers;   author assumes that audience will be interested in improving techniques,   yields, and profits


No; no bibliographies

Yes; will have   bibliographies

No; may or may not   have bibliographies

Author's Credentials


 Researcher or expert in the field

 Someone in the field (practitioner)