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The Nature of Scientific Research

Author Credibility

Early this year, in English 10, you researched and delivered speeches related to controversial topics.  In your annotated bibliographies, you were asked to evaluate the credibility of your sources based on author expertise and/or evidence of research conducted (experts quoted/sources noted).  In science, it is particularly important to establish the expertise within a related scientific field.  We can look for that evidence

  • listed in the resource (this information is reliable when listed in an authoritative source)
  • by searching the web for author's name (in quotes) and area of expertise (results should reveal professional affiliations, publications, etc.)  BE CAREFUL!   Author published credentials may have errors or exaggerations.

 Let's practice looking for evidence of an author's credentials.  

In groups, select one of the articles above to review.  Discuss the following questions regarding the author:

  • What does the author identify as his or her area of expertise?
  • What evidence can you find to support this author's claims of credibility?

What is pseudoscience?

  1. In Scientific AmericanMichael Shermer writes about the difficulties in labeling something as pseudoscience.
  2. In Psychology Today, Dr. Paull Thagard defines pseudoscience and how it differs from science. 
  3. As a doctoral student, RobertMacDougall outlined a brief history of pseudoscience.​
  4. On his website, Donald Simanek lists the characteristics of pseudoscience.
  5. Jennifer Raff blogs about the difference between science and pseudoscience.
  6. In Skeptical InquirerEdward Kruglyakov explains why pseudoscience is dangerous.
  7. The Skeptical Raptor maintains a blog and a Facebook page discussing various incidents of pseudoscience.
  8. In a New York Times editorial, Massimo Pigliucci and Maraten Boudry warn about the dangers of pseudoscience. 

Now, examine one of the resources you have found during your preliminary research.  Click on the button below to evaluate the author's credibility.

Think you'll get better at this with more practice.  
Feel free to submit additional statements of credibility.

Personal Bias


In the guide, Uncover Media Bias. In particular, make use of the "red flags" of bias (also listed in the right hand column). As you read, highlight these indicators in your own research articles for careful consideration.

Asking Essential Questions
CONSIDER: How might a habit of asking questions encourage real science?


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