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Your Weekly Leadership HVA (High Value Activity)

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Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions) to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites #32: Most (if not all) of us have turned to the Internet on those occasions when we need to do research. Whether the research you performed was for an upcoming business presentation, trying to solve a complex problem, or simply for your own learning, I'm certain you'll agree the Internet contains an unbelievable amount of information. Notice I said “information” and not “facts” because, while there are facts to be found on the Internet, you have to be exceedingly judicious today to determine fact from fiction.

All of the research and writing I did during the dissertation phase of my PhD was necessarily academic — requiring the use of only credible, peer-reviewed sources. This meant I needed to adopt a few practices that led to credible and reliable research outcomes. If we want to be credible as leaders of people, we need to also adopt similar practices when using the Internet for business research and/or learning purposes.

With so much content and so little oversight on the Internet, determining which information is reliable can be overwhelming. Fortuitously, there are a few easy steps you can take to evaluate the reliability/credibility of the information you're looking for.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Step: The next time you open your browser to do a bit of research, follow these HVAs and you'll be guaranteed a much more credible (and fact-based) outcome:

  • Become a Healthy Skeptic: Okay, this may be a given, but some of the websites you end up reviewing may look and sound so credible that you get lulled into believing the content. Don't be gullible — if something sounds credible do some additional research to see if other sources exist that support the author's claims. Understand the difference between 'opinion' and 'fact' and look for credible sources for the (alleged) “facts” being reported.
  • Check the URL: If the information you've located is linked to an organization, try to determine the reliability of the sponsoring organization by looking at the top-level domain. If the domain name ends with .gov, it's almost certain to be a reliable government website (and a great source for statistics and objective reports); if the domain name ends with .edu, it's almost certain to be an educational institution (but watch out for obvious political biases that may be embedded in the information provided).
  • Check the Date: For credibility, you need the most up-to-date information available. Unless you're intentionally looking for information from the past, if a website seems old (both in look and in content), it's probably best to steer clear. One tip I'll suggest is to look for a "last updated" date on the page or site — credible sources are usually required to have this information so if no date exists, move on.
  • Check for Originality: Products, such as Grammarly’s Plagiarism Checker, can be used to make sure the information being cited is original to the author. [Note: This can also be used on your own material to make sure that you're not accidentally plagiarizing.]
  • Read the Counter-Argument: It's prudent to read at least two arguments and two counter-arguments (at minimum) to best understand the perspective of various writers before forming your own opinion. [Note: This practice is also recommended elsewhere in life to ensure you bring a balanced perspective.]
  • Start a Google Alert: if you need to stay informed on the latest news from an area that interests you, set up a Google Alert with the frequency commensurate with your Need-to-Know.
  • Use Google Scholar: I use Google Scholar a lot when I want to eliminate content such as opinion-oriented websites, magazine articles, book reviews, and editorials from my searches. Only credible technical reports, conference presentations, journal articles, and other reliable material is included in this search engine. One advantage of this search engine is that you can search who has cited an article (there is a certain amount of comfort when you have credible sources citing material you're interested in).
  • Use Give a try as an alternate to Google. This search engine has the text of articles from over 500 print periodicals (1998 to present). While some of the more popular magazines aren't included on the FindArticles database, it's still a reasonably robust offering and usage is completely free of charge.
  • [Bonus HVA] If the Webpage you found is no longer available: Even if a website is no longer available, Google will usually have a copy stored in its archives. This page can be accessed by clicking the green arrow next to the URL. This will link you to the last version of the page the Google Spiderbot indexed. A handy feature of the 'cache' link is it will let you know the date it was last indexed (see "Check the Date" above).

I'd love to hear how this HVA works for you!

Have a brilliant day ... and enjoy the journey!


Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA

RESULTant and Behavioral Engineer

"After all, the ultimate goal of all research is not objectivity, but truth."

Helene Deutsch 

Looking for previous issues of CORE Bites HVAs? Go to our Archives Repository.

An online version of this CORE Bites HVA (current issue) can be viewed here.


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Clearview Performance Systems, Inc.

24573 N 119th Pl, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 USA

Authorized Representative: Neil Dempster

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