Five possible outcomes

Finding information effectively is, in large measure, a matter of understanding how that information or knowledge is to be used in your own arguments and explanations. Often we simply want some basic descriptive information to serve as claims in our reasoning without wanting to provide extensive supporting arguments. For instance, we read, in relation to our nationalistic advertisements investigation, that Crocodile Dundee was one of the most popular films ever screened in Australia. We can simply state this piece of information, either quoting exactly from the original or re-expressing the information in our own words, giving an appropriate reference to it.12 We are simply taking a single claim from our 'source'.

We can also take an entire argument or explanation from our 'source'. We could quote such reasoning exactly, but usually, for stylistic reasons, we express it in our own words. For example, James's article (mentioned above) argues that nationalistic advertisements encourage consumers to purchase a corporation's products because, by being 'Australian' (even when the companies are often owned by foreign interests), the products are assumed to be better than others. We are, in effect, getting claims and links (reasoning) from the 'source' (can you see the trace of linking in 'because'?). Once again, we provide a reference in order to acknowledge our debt to the original author.

Yet very often what we want to 'take' from these sources is not that specific and cannot simply be 'found' by looking at a certain page. Instead, we can summarise the basic argument or explanation in a source that we have read (always in our own words), reducing a long text to a short series of premises and a conclusion, which we can then use in our own argument (again, with an appropriate reference). For example, Anderson's Imagined Communities is a long and detailed work on nationalism that, in part, concludes that technologies that allow humans to overcome geographical distance (for example, railways) have played a significant role in the creation of modern nations. We could include such a summary (which, of course, can be expressed in the analytical format in our notes) within our own reasoning. We are, thus, taking from the source not a specific claim, nor a specific piece of reasoning, but our understanding (analytically speaking) of the source's overall argument or explanation.

Fourth, we can take from sources a type of information that is far more indefinable than the information gained in any of the last three cases. This category can be summed up as 'positions and values'. It is usually hidden within the source and can be recovered using your judgment (based on what you read or hear) of the underlying position that the author of the source holds. This underlying position can be inferred from that person's own arguments or explanations, or the way in which the arguments or explanations have been received by others. We read, for example, in Graeme Turner's Making It National13 that Australian businesses

0 0

Post a comment