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 Unit 5 level 7-8

5. Accuracy and reliability.
Plagiarism; accuracy, reliability, unbiased

i. Plagiarism comes from a word describing a thief - and plagiarism means stealing someone else's words.

We must be very careful to use our own words or at least quote the words of others so that it is clear who originally wrote them.
When researching it is important to refer to the original source material by name so that a reader knows where it comes from, who wrote it and when it was written.

Here's an example:

 "Old Alonissos ... has been slowly repopulated, and among the ruins there are many delightful villas for rent. Most are small by modern standards, with tiny rooms, but they offer spectacular views and are close to a street of tavernas at the top of the world."
Jonathan Futrell, The Sunday Times, April 23rd 2000.

Here I have quoted the paragraph but missed out part of the sentence ("crippled by an earthquake in 1950") because I thought it wasn't relevant. I've replaced that with three dots ... to show that something has been missed out.
I've also given the details of who (wrote it), where (it was published) and when (date of the newspaper).
Now you can believe the source, which is from a national newspaper, written by a reputable journalist and from a recent source.
I've kept it short, I've admitted I didn't write it myself and so I haven't plagiarised it.

Using the ideas above write down bullet points of advice to avoid plagiarism.

ii Accuracy is of two kinds

The first is spelling and grammatical accuracy.
All your work should be accurate in this way or your readers won't take you seriously. If I rite like his,, with lot's of mistaches in my riting, weather speling or tiping - why should you believe that the content of my writing - what I write about - is accurate?
For this kind of accuracy a spell checker - and a grammar checker if you know how to use it - can be a great help. However you shouldn't rely on it.

Here's an example which passed through the spell checker perfectly but has many mistakes.
How many mistakes?

Deer Sir
Eye agree with yew. It is grate two bee able too cheque spelling. This letter has bean chequed buy won, sew aye no awl the words inn it must bee spelt write.

(Joe Headey, aged 13, Faringdon, Oxfordshire)

How many mistakes? Answers here >

So don't rely on your spell checker to change everything for you automatically - few machines can tell the difference between weather/whether, which/witch, reed/read .... that's up to you!

The second kind of accuracy is accuracy of content.
Sometimes people disagree, sometimes no-one knows the real truth, sometimes one source is right and another is wrong but you can't tell which ....

Here are three pieces of information on a similar topic. Which pieces of information are agreed and which pieces are doubtful?

1. "The Island of Skipios is delightful and quiet all the year round."
[Travel Annual, 1994] and we might think that's a good reason to visit.

2. However we then could watch a TV Travel programme which shows us that "Since developers moved into the island of Skipios in 1996 several high rise blocks have been built to provide for the tourist trade. The east coast of the island is now the fastest growing wind-surfing resort in the area."
That might make us avoid the island in our search for a quiet holiday.

3. Then we might see a Website called which points out that
"while the east coast has recently become highly developed, the west coast remains a haven of peace for fishermen and donkeys and the local people welcome the occasional traveller into their homes."

Which pieces of information are agreed and which pieces are doubtful?
What seems to be the truth?

Answers here >

iii Reliability and prejudice.

If you know where and when and by whom the article was written you may be able to say how reliable the information is.
Which are most reliable in the following list?

Place them in order of reliability with the most reliable at number one.
Why you might find each one unreliable.

1. "Skipios is the quietest and most attractive of the Greek islands. The villas at Silvasun's resort are light and spacious, with excellent service and a welcoming and helpful resort manager, Dmitri Kyprios."
[from the Silvasun advertising brochure, written by Dmitri Kyprios]

2. "Skipios is a terrific place for a holiday - lots of things to do, bars open all night and a meeting place for great people from all over Europe. You'll have a fantastic and wild time!"
[from Klub 20-30, brochure for young singles holidays]

3. "Skipios - place of dreams, where the cool breeze wafts over you as you lie in the sun gazing at the deep blue waters and white surf of the Cyclades. Skipios is the haven of the Gods, untouched by travellers and blissfully unaware of its own beauty."
[from Guide to the Greek Islands, by Archie Watkins, pub Collins 1956]

4. Skipios: 32 miles by 12. population 12,000. Hotels: 2 grade 5, 12 grade 4. Resorts: Afrodite (75 apartments, some dormitory accom); Olympus: (50 apartments, self catering). Local fishing; ferries twice per day; some watersports.
[Greece - data for travel agents. Produced by Greek Tourist Authority, Jan. 2000]

5. "Skipios? Yes, we enjoyed ourselves. We spent two nights there a few years ago. It was a bit noisy at nights, but the weather was lovely, wasn't it Gladys? I think that was Skipios, anyway..."
[Bernard Cullen, neighbour].

Reliability and prejudice - conclusions

Did you think the first extract was biased because Silvasun and Dmitri wanted to show themselves in a good light?
Did you think the second extract was biased towards young people?
Did you think the third extract was out of date - and also rather vague about details.
Did you think the fourth extract seemed accurate but didn't tell you what the place was really like in terms of people and atmosphere?
Did you think the fifth extract was vague and personal (though, if accurate, it did confirm extracts 2 and 3.)

What have we learned?

We mustn't accept all information as true until we've asked:

Is it up-to-date?
Is it from a reputable source?
Does the source have a reason for "pushing" one point of view?
Is it accurate?
Can I confirm this information by comparing with another source?

In the end we might not be able to be certain about our information, but that's better than believing everything we read.

Go on to Unit Six

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