More about Checklist Item Number 4 and How to Work  

Think of this as coaching on how to meet this requirement. If you need for me to talk with you about this, just ask.


You must use reliable sources to verify what you write. (To verify means you use a reliable source to confirm the accuracy of anything you write.)


  1. First, concentrate on the question. What is the prof (or the boss) asking for? Click here for the goal of all writing in this course. 

    Caution: In this course, I provide all essay questions ahead of time for two reasons:

·         So you have a chance to know what you need to read

·         So you can ask a question if you do not understand my question


  1. Second, do two things at the beginning and end of your reading:

·         Before you start to read, stop and be sure what you are reading is appropriate for that question. (Once you start writing, you will not catch your error.)
Examples: Do not use information about New England to answer a question about the South or information about ranchers to answer a question about farmers.

·         Before you stop reading, look to see if some other things happened or if some things changed.
- Notice the sentences (and sometimes pages) before and after what you are reading.
Example: A truth that requires three sentences can be a falsehood if you only notice one of those sentences.
- Notice changes over time. In this course, I will provide resources so you have a chance to see interconnections and changes that occur over time. Check those resources.
Example: What’s true in 1619 may be different after 1660—or in 1868 and after 1898.

  1. Third, when you select your facts, make sure they are significant and representative. Do not cherry pick your facts.

  2. Fourth, when you read, observe carefully and constantly. Do not embellish your facts.

·         Notice words that reveal limitations of a fact.
- Verbs such as believed (A person believed something. The historian did not say the person was right.)
- Verbs such as wanted (A person wanted to do something. The historian did not say the person succeeded.)
Nouns such as critics and supporters (The historian has warned you of the person’s bias.)
Words indicating quantity such as few, many, most, and all. (The historian has warned you of the limits. If she does not say all, then you do not either.




Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2013



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