Common Knowledge and Scholarly Research

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How do you know what to believe?

This is one of the most common questions we receive from doctoral students.  Advances in online communications have led to a web that is awash in opinion, advocacy, distortion, and questionable “truths”, much of which is stated or implied as “common knowledge”.  Yet, how do we really know what knowledge is common, what can be accepted as true, and how can we wade through opinion and belief to get at the real facts?

Most doctoral programs require dissertation writers to primarily use peer-reviewed sources in the development of their proposals.  This most frequently takes the form of refereed journals of established quality.  However it is not always clear which sources are peer reviewed and which are not.  Moreover, what do we do about questions or problems that have received little or no credible research?  How are we to judge the sagacity of what we read?

We’ve recently added several resources to our website targeted at this concern:

Scholarly Research Versus Fact Finding

What is Common Knowledge?

Critical Review by Coutts