Skip to main content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Choosing the Right Sources: Identifying Bias and Fallacies: Introduction

Introduction

Researchers sift through hundreds of articles and other research material every year. It is sometimes more challenging to identify bias in academic sources than in popular materials.

Academic sources are often subject to the peer review process, which can lead to an assumption of accuracy

This is because the peer review process is often viewed as  They might not have the time to use fact checking websites every time they find a new source to make sure that the data it uses is accurate and the author's thesis is sound. It is far more effective and efficient to be able to analyze the material yourself. This is done in two ways: identifying the author's bias and examining the author's arguments for logical fallacies. 

----------

An author's bias will impact how they approach the topic they are researching. It will influence the questions they ask, the ways in which those questions are posed, and how the resulting evidence is interpreted. Biases can be personal, professional, and often invisible.

Similarly, it is important to check the author's interpretation of evidence and resulting thesis for logical cohesion. Logical fallacies are defined by Purdue OWL as "common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim." These errors happen when an author views evidence through an unchecked biased view.

It can be difficult to identify -- and avoid -- fallacies but this guide provides some simple techniques and tools that can be used to quickly determine the author's bias and avoid inconsistent logic.

Ask a Librarian

University of Illinois Library's picture
University of Illinois Library
Contact:
Main Library
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
217-333-2290
Website