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White Paper Quality and Credibility

By nexcerptest ·
Greetings--I would be most grateful to hear of anyone who has had positive or negative experiences regarding the quality or credibility of white papers they've downloaded, or who would like to share some strategies on how to evaluate white papers.

This information would be for an article I am writing for my publication, The Information Advisor, regarding the quality and credibility of white papers retrieved on the Web.

Thanks for any input! By the way, your name won't be used in the article unless you provide explicit permission.

Bob Berkman, editor
The Information Advisor
Falmouth MA

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Degrees of separation

by DC_GUY In reply to White Paper Quality and C ...

First I look at the names. If the authors are people I know then I can judge their work by their past performance (either good or bad). If someone I know helped or sponsored them, that's the next level of separation. If someone I know knows someone who helped them... etc.

I'm very wary of white papers that come to me with unknown credentials. People can be well educated and persuasive writers, and still be totally wrong. At that point I go Googling to see if the paper has accreted a body of critical commentary. If it has a fair number of supporters and critics you can peruse the controversy and notice the problems that other people had with the paper and the ways that the opposite side defended it and vice versa.

There is an epidemic of poorly-reviewed academic writing, so I tend to ignore stuff that's right out on the cutting edge unless it happens to be right in one of my own specialties and I feel that I am qualified to review it myself.

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Finding critical commentary

by nexcerptest In reply to Degrees of separation

Thanks for those thoughts--I'm curious--what kinds of sites on Google do you find that contain that kind of critical discussion--are these blogs for IT people? General usenet/listserv forums? Something else?

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by DC_GUY In reply to Finding critical commenta ...

In IT, it's usually the discussion boards on the websites run by professional associations or special interest groups. E.g. for testing you'd probably find the discussion on StickyMinds; for software metrics you'd end up at IFPUG.

You can also Google the author and see if they are generally held in high regard, if their papers are usually peer reviewed and survive it, and just in general by perusing their other writing to see if they have a habit of veering off into crackpothood.

In other disciplines you're likely to run into a lot of foreign websites, particularly, in my experience, German and Swedish. I find the "scientific German" I took in college to come in handy, but I have to pass on the Swedish.

India and China are building universities at the rate we built interstate highways in the 1960s and 70s, so we can look forward to an increased need for Americans to dump our stereotype of being monolingual.

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