Source Analysis Assignment: Cyberbullying

The internet gives individuals the ability to access vast amounts of information. However, not all of the information on the internet is accurate or credible and therefore cannot be used in any important research. In order to combat the problem of credibility there have been methods formed to determine how reliable a source is. An article on the Cyberbullying Research Center website ,written by Justin W. Patchin, is being tested for credibility. In evaluating Justin W. Patchin’s article, Educator Searches of Private Student Social Media Profiles: The Illinois Experiment, the following methods were employed: the five-point model and rhetorical properties.

The five-point model contains the following major categories: accuracy, authority, objectivity, coverage, and currency. Accuracy in basic terms challenges whether or not the information provided is true. In Patchin’s article there are no contradictions or mistakes. However, the article is not verified against other sources. It contains generally true information as the article pertains to a new law passed in Illinois about cyberbullying. Authority pertains to the writer’s credibility. The writer Justin W. Patchin has a vast background in the view of cyberbullying. He a co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. The Cyberbullying Research Center has been around since 2002. The website seeks to provide constant updates on cyberbullying laws. In addition, Patchin has a Ph. D in Criminal Justice with a B.S. in sociology with an emphasis in Criminal Justice. He has written many different novels alongside Dr. Sameer Hinduja pertaining to cyberbullying. Therefore, Patchin has a vast background in cyberbullying and criminal justice thus making him a fairly credible source. Objectivity questions if the article contains lots of bias. The article contains mostly fact. However, the last paragraph is more of an analysis by Patch on his thoughts regarding Illinois’s new law and is therefore is opinion. Patchin seeks to give insight on the new law and allow readers to be kept up to date on how laws related to cyberbullying affect children. The ads on the article are all associated with cyberbullying. The ads generally portray other cyberbullying websites or groups on social media. Therefore, the article seems to be fair and remains on the topic of cyberbullying. Thus making the article more credible. Coverage refers to the amount of detail presented in the source. The source provides plenty of information to help the reader understand the new law and is to the point. The writer does not drag out the information. However, the article does not have a lot of in depth information. There would be no other information the author could include besides the views of other professionals in the field on the new law. In general the source has decent coverage and does not leave out any incredibly important information. Again, adding to the credibility of the article. Currency attributes to the recency of the source. The article was created on January 22, 2015. The source has not been revised as it is quite current. There is no need to update the source since it was published merely 3 weeks ago, and the information regarding the law has not changed. As far as currency goes the article is perfectly current. Hence adding on to the credibility of the source. As far as credibility goes pertaining to the five-point model, the source is moderately reliable. Therefore, based on this method the article would be a credible source and could be used for research.

Rhetorical properties contain rhetorical appeals, toulmin logic, and logical fallacies,. There are three rhetorical appeals are emotion, logic, and ethics. Logical appeal refers to the facts presented in the article. The source presents many solid facts such as the actual law Illinois law. It also gives a factual background about the law and when it was signed. The logical appeals in the article help to enhance the credibility. Ethical appeal refers to the credibility of the composer. As discussed earlier the author is a very credible source with a Ph. D in criminal justice. Thus furthering the credibility of the source. The source contains no emotional appeal, which has little impact upon the credibility. Having too little emotional appeal is not necessarily ineffective however, having too much would greatly inhibit the credibility. Toulmin logic uses claims, reasons, assumptions, evidence, and qualifiers to evaluate credibility. Claims are debatable statements. The only potentially debatable statements made by the author would be his view on how the law will impact students and school teachers. The reasons behind the claim would be that this law could potentially violate the privacy of children since it gives school officials the ability to check the social media of a student suspected of cyberbullying. Assumptions are beliefs the creator would expect the reader to have. The author is under the assumption that the reader and other individuals generally care about the well being of all the other children even if it means incriminating their own child. Unfortunately the author provides no real evidence as to why the claim is true. Therefore, causing the author to lose some credibility since there is no backup for why his opinion is true. Qualifiers limit of narrow claims. The use of many facts would be a qualifier for this article. The facts provided cannot be argued with as they are true. There are many different types of logical fallacies however, the only ones that pertain to this source are cause/effect and begging the question. Cause/effect refers to assuming that because one thing happens it will cause many other things to happen. In this case the author assumes that because the law has been passed that the school will take the passwords of students. Therefore, invading their privacy without any true evidence. However, more than likely the school would conduct a thorough investigation before obtaining any kind of password. Begging the question attributes to assuming that the argument is already proven. The author gives no true evidence to his claim about how the school will now be able to invade a student’s privacy. He assumes that since the law has been passed that this has already happened and thus his argument is completely valid. Both of these fallacies weaken the source’s credibility. Based upon rhetorical properties the article is still balanced and generally reliable.

Based solely on the rhetorical properties the source would be less reliable but with the inclusion of the five-point model the article becomes more credible. The article appeals to the purpose of sharing information about laws that pertain to cyberbullying. Overall, the source seems to be fairly reliable and an individual could safely use it for research.