Monday, February 4, 2019

Reliable places to find information for your speeches

At Presentation Guru on January 22, 2019 there was a brief, useful article by Rakiah Oneeb titled The Most Reliable Places to Find Credible Data, which may be of interest to Toastmasters. It is good as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. (For another viewpoint, look at Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes article from June 11, 2018 on How to Research Your Speech Topic).

Her first four sentences say:
“As a presenter, one of the worst things that can happen during your presentation is not you forgetting to mention an important stat/data, but someone from the audience disputing the authenticity of that data.

Not only will it embarrass you, it will blow your credibility out of the water. So, when it comes to presenting, there isn’t a greater faux pax (sic) you could commit.

Even if you are an expert in your field, your presentation will need to cite other credible information either to compound on your findings or convincingly compare them to the other.  

Rakiah discussed five (really six) places where she claimed you could find reliable information for any subject:



3] Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

4] a) Google Scholar and b) Microsoft Academic Search

5] Expert Interviews

Unless you are already very experienced at searching (like I am), I would suggest you should start by interviewing a reference librarian at your friendly local public library. Ask her both about books and which of their databases you can best use for finding information to put in your presentation. 

Rakiah suggests that you access EBSCO databases from a public or university library that uses it. EBSCO currently is what the Idaho Commission for Libraries, via LiLI, supplies for our public libraries. Idaho taxpayers individually may be poor, but collectedly we are powerful. (Other states use other suppliers like Gale).

EBSCO is extremely useful, but their basic search is a blunt tool - like trying to cut a raw carrot with a butter knife. Their advanced search is way more powerful. I usually start looking for magazine articles in three EBSCO databases – MasterFILE Premier, Business Source Premier, and Academic Search Premier.

On February 24, 2015 I blogged about How to do a better job of speech research than the average Toastmaster (by using your friendly local public and state university libraries). I discussed EBSCO there. But I never use Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Google Scholar, or Microsoft Academic Search. I don’t often use JSTOR since I have to go to the library at Boise State University and use one of their public terminals in order to access it.

Under their under Articles and Databases tab a web page at the Boise State University Library lists these seven preferred places to look:

Academic Search Premier (from EBSCO)

ProQuest Central


Web of Science

Google Scholar

CQ Researcher

Gale Virtual Reference

Only three of them match Rakiah’s list. CQ Researcher provides in-depth reports on today’s issues. Similarly, on January 17, 2019 I blogged about Two library databases and a web site for exploring both sides of controversial issues. Web of Science is very useful for both engineering and science.

Rakiah did not mention WorldCat, which is the planetary card catalog of libraries from OCLC. Back on February 28, 2012 I blogged about 40.5 years of WorldCat – a great tool for digging up books, magazine articles, etc.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) has wonderful resources, like Medline Plus (trusted health information for you). A great source from them is PubMed Central which has a free full-text archive of over 5 million articles. They also have the PubMed database with 29 million citations of article titles and abstracts.

The Presentation Guru article ended with a section on evaluating your sources, and linked to an article about the CRAAP test. CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. On August 7, 2017 I blogged about that topic in a post titled Spotting fake news and finding reliable information for speeches. My post discussed two examples of unreliable information.
The carrot and butter knife were adapted from images at the National Cancer Institute.  

1 comment:

Cleon said...

What a great and most useful article Dr. Garber. Thank you again.