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Critiquing new ideas

We can't check the truth of everything we read, so in the spirit of scholarly trust we use the research of others to build our own work. But there is an obligation for other scholars to assess the value of what we say, before accepting it as the basis of further investigations.

They might want to check the references that we have used

  • to judge the accuracy or validity of the referenced work
  • to make sure we have used it fairly and accurately
  • or even to make sure that we haven't completely made it up.

Other researchers, and your lecturers, don't have to trust you. They need to be able to check that you aren't just making up sources or surveys or data or even entire life histories. This happens from time to time in the academic world. See Bryan Martin's essay Scientific Fraud and The Power Structure of Science Opens in a new window for a number of interesting case studies.

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