Evaluate a Source

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II
SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

Logan Stevens

English Composition II

December 20, 2016

Source Evaluation on “Salmon: Their Fight for Survival” by Anthony Netboy.

In my research paper I am arguing that there is a dire need for extra protection of wild

salmon and steelhead on the west coast; particularly in Washington, Oregon, and northern

California, where once very large wild fish stocks are dwindling near extinction. Hatcheries have

helped slow the decline of these fisheries, but are not a substitute for truly wild fish. In my

research I came across a book entitled “Salmon: Their Fight for Survival” by Anthony Netboy. I

found this to be an unreliable source for my essay due to its broadness, its tendency toward bias,

the inaccuracy in information, and its age.

Netboy’s book has several problems with it; the first of which being its broadness. I am

looking for information about fisheries of the pacific coast. This book gives information on

“[s]almon catches in Norway” (Netboy 152) and “[s]almon in Great Britain” (45) as well as

some tidbits about pacific salmon catches, and some information about dams on the Columbia

River, however it was mostly things that were not backed up by another source.

Another problem I saw in this source is some of the way it was worded made it feel

Commented [SL1]: Good thesis. It explains your stance on
its credibility and the reasons why you believe it to be
unreliable.

Commented [2]: See note below on organization.

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II
SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

biased and opinionated rather than presenting straight hard facts. For example; in one section

they are talking about the decline of the California salmon fisheries. The language the author

uses seems biased in my eyes. I agree with his opinion, but I’m not looking for an opinion, I’m

looking for facts.

The fate of California’s salmon mirrors the state’s use and misuse of many of its

natural resources. In the last half of the century a serene land of indefinetly varied

landscapes… was invaded by hordes of people from the ends of America and

abroad seeking riches…In the process rivers and watersheds were turned topsy-

turvy, farmlands were bulldozed and covered with towns, cities, and Cyclopean

highways…Like other forms of aquatic life, many of the salmon became victims

of this unparalleled destruction. (Netboy 235)

The use of several words and phrases, such as “hordes” and “this unparalleled destruction” say to

me that he is using his own opinion and not fact, thereby making the source somewhat biased,

and not very useful.

Also, in some of this work, there are tables, showing salmon catches in different regions.

I noticed that the numbers are not matching up with some of my other research. I have records of

fish counts from the Bonnevelle Dam on the Columbia River. According to the book there were

384,780 chinook salmon that passed through Bonnevelle Dam in 1970 (Netboy 548). However

according to the records kept on the Columbia Basin Fisheires, only 314,032 chinook salmon

were counted. This may seem a small difference to some but when one thinks of all the rivers

and tributaries on the Columbia it adds up rather fast. 70,000 fish can be an entire river’s worth

of fish for a season. This discrepancy only goes to show this as an unreliable source.

Commented [3]: Excellent point!

Commented [4]: This is a good point. In order to be truly
helpful, a source should be comprised of facts trends.
When there is bias, it can skew the information that is
being presented.

Commented [5]: The organization of your paper could
have been enhanced if this paragraph was placed after
your second paragraph. That one ended with the
statement that not all of the facts in the book were
backed up another source. Could have been a good
lead-in!

Commented [6]: Good use of another source to check
validity!

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II
SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

The final problem with this source I found is the date of publication. It was originally

published in 1974 by Houghton Mifflin. This source is over 30 years old. There are many more

modern sources that have updated and more accurate information, along with research to back it

up. For example the book “[t]he Behavior and Ecology of Pacific Salmon and Trout” by Thomas

P. Quinn has many tables and years worth of research gathered by the author himself and

compared with other research that has been conducted. It was published in 2005, giving it a bit

more relevance due to modern scientific research.

In conclusion, I have deemed this source as unhelpful and unreliable. An effective source

should be relevant, recent, backed by research, and factual. This source has flaws with all four of

those things, not to mention with the vast amount of information about specific parts of the globe

that I am not arguing for in my argumentative essay. Although it contains some information that

might help build background information on my topic, it will not be useful to me with my thesis

statement in mind.

Commented [7]: Good concluding paragraph! Nice
summary of your points from above.

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II
SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

Works Cited

1. Columbia Basin Fisheries and Tribes. “Annual Adult Salmon Totals” (04/22/2008): web (02/10/2010).

.

2. Netboy, Antony. “The Salmon: Their Fight for Survival” Houghton Mifflin. (1974): 45, 152, 235, 548.

Print.

Reflection Questions:

1. What are some of the things you thought about when initially reading through this
source? What types of questions do you ask yourself when it comes to evaluating the
validity/reliability of a source?

I’ve learned that a good source to use for accurate research should be recent, reliable, and
factual. Those are the main things that I considered throughout my analysis of the source.

2. How does this practice enhance your argumentative essay overall?

By making sure all of my sources are reliable, recent, and factual, I am able to strengthen
my argument on this topic and back it up with factual evidence. An argument will be easy
to debunk if it doesn’t have the data and facts to support it.

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II
SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

Source Evaluation Essay Rubric and Feedback

Rubric
Category

Feedback Score
(acceptable, needs
improvement etc.)

Thesis You have a great thesis here. It takes a clear
stance on the issue and you are very clear about
why.

10/10

Proficient

Evidence and
Analysis

You do an outstanding job of including points
from the source that adequately support your
analysis. I can see how you’ve done your
research.

10/10

Proficient

Organization A few elements of your organization could be
tweaked to enhance the flow, but not to the point
where it is hard to follow.

3/5

Proficient

Style, Editing,
and Proofreading

You have done a great job ensuring there are no
major convention errors.

5/5

Proficient

Citations and
Formatting

You do a great job using APA format in your
essay.

5/5

Proficient

Think About Your
Writing

You have provided thoughtful responses to the
reflection questions. Well done.

5/5

Proficient

Overall Score and Feedback: 48/50

I think you really know your stuff when it comes to this topic! It shows throughout your analysis
of the source you chose. I think you do a bit more brainstorming when you are putting your
essays together in the future. The organization of your information can take a good paper and
make it a great paper.

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