Succeeding in postgraduate study
Succeeding in postgraduate study

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Succeeding in postgraduate study

Diagnostic test 2: Evaluating and referencing sources

Question 1

Imagine the following situation:

On the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America, Phil (a local resident) and Helen (who has recently moved to the area) are walking in the woods when a baby octopus falls onto Helen’s shoulder.

She is a little shocked at first, but after the surprise wears off she is just confused. She doesn’t understand how an octopus could have got into the trees, but Phil explains that it is a Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. He says that sometimes the babies lose their grip on the branches and fall to the ground, but that they are usually okay because they don’t have any bones to break.

Helen thinks he is making fun of her but when Phil has put the octopus back in a tree and they are back at his house, he shows her a website all about the rare Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

Have a look now at a Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and see if you would believe Phil.

Do you think:

Select one or more. (You’ll need to uncheck all of the boxes to make the ‘reveal answer’ function work.)


The site has a good Presentation.


The site looks Relevant.


The site is Objective.


The site uses an appropriate Method of investigation.


You can determine the Provenance of the site.


The site is Timely, i.e. it has recently been updated.

The correct answers are a, b, c, e and f.


Presentation, Relevance, Objectivity, Method, Provenance and Timeliness (PROMPT) are important things to consider when determining the quality and authority of information sources (but Presentation is probably the least important of these).

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