Finding Credible Information about Problems and Responses

Finding Credible Information about Problems and Responses to Help You Choose and Argue for a Response


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Facts & Statistics from Federal Agencies: Most federal agencies are required to gather and analyze data related to their functions. This data can be very useful in understanding and demonstrating the scope and seriousness of problems:



Other Credible Sources

To avoid using biased information, find out about the political and social positions of an organization by looking it up on Wikipedia. Wikipedia does a good job of thoroughly describing organizations and their positions on political or social issues. You can use facts and statistics from organizations that have biasesbut you need to acknowledge the potential bias when you present facts and statistics from them.


Suggested Categories of Sources

  • Well-known non-partisan non-profits (American Cancer Society)
  • Non-profits focused on an aspect of your subject – try a regular Google search for “national association of (name the subject). Example: there is a National Eating Disorders Association. You may be surprised by what you find
  • Non-partisan or Bi-partisan organizations like the Pew Research Center
  • Newspapers and News Organizations considered to be non-biased. (Do not use MSNBC or other similarly liberal websites or Fox News or other similarly conservative websites– they fall under the category of an organization with a clear bias)


Warning: Do not use material from commercial websites (.com) or from essays published on websites that sell essays to students. Do not use material from papers written by high school or undergraduate students. It is the writer’s responsibility (your responsibility) to investigate the credibility of each source.


Other Great Strategies!

  • Useregular Google (not Google Scholar) and do “natural language” searches that include phrases like “how many,” “how much” can quickly get you useful information about the size and scope of a problem or response.
  • Add the name or acronym for a federal agency (EPA, CDC, etc.) to your natural language search phrase can often get you to useful data. (Example: Impact of obesity and CDC)
  • To find out about current responses focus searches on narrow aspects of the problem. For example, instead of googling responses to mass incarceration, google programs for drug offenders or drug court.
  • A problemusually has immediate, short term, medium term and long-term effects. Look for information about all of these time-frames. Responses usually target one of those time-frames.


Example Problem: Mass incarceration; you narrow to incarceration ofBlack men for non-violent drug offenses. You look for the following:

  • Total number/percentage of people arrested for non-violent drug offenses each year
  • Number/percentage of Black men annually incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses
  • Effects of incarceration for non-violent drug offenses on the prisoner, family members, community
  • Outlook for Blackprisoners post-release
  • Information about current responses focused on preventing arrest and incarceration such as anti-bias training for police, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, diversion programs such as drug courts, etc.
  • Information about specific programs targeting prisoners incarcerated for nonviolent drug offences like drug treatment, job readiness, encouraging family engagement, etc.
  • Information about post-release programs like halfway houses, employment support, etc.

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