Adapted from: Bodi, Sonia. "Propaganda or Scholarship: How to Tell the Difference."  Empowering Students; Hands-On Library Instruction Activities. Ed. Marilyn P. Whitmore. Pittsburgh: Library Instruction Publications, 1996. 15-20.

Indicators of Scholarship

Acknowledges authorship, credentials and affiliations

Describes the limits of data

Uses the scholarship of other authorities to help define the problem

Presents accurate description of alternative views

Presents both favorable and unfavorable data

Substantiates sources

Encourages debate/discussion/criticism/critical thinking

Uses accepted criteria for evaluating data

Looks for counter-examples

Uses language in agreed-on ways

Has no financial stake in findings

Updates information

Attempts to discuss general laws/principles

Attempts to be fair-minded and objective

Finds own field/area of investigation difficult and full of holes

Finds that answers are complicated

Indicators of Propaganda

Often anonymous

Claims absolute certainty

Ridicules and makes personal attacks

Makes emotional appeals

Distorts unfavorable data

Devalues thought/critical appraisal

Suppresses contradictory views and facts

Presents unfavorable information/views out of context

Appeals to popular prejudices

May have a financial interest in the answer

Transforms words to suit aims

Relies on suggestion (e.g. negative innuendo)

Magnifies or minimizes problems/suggested remedies

Knows the answers

Finds that answers are easy

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Jan Sauer, Instructional Services Librarian,

last modified October, 2003