Factual Accuracy That You Verify with the Reliable Source Before You Write

Think of this as coaching on how to meet this requirement. If you need for me to talk with you about this, just ask.


You must use reliable sources to verify everything that you write or say. To verify a fact means to confirm that the reliable source specifically states that fact (whether you wrote the words or the author did). — With bosses (or professors), you will be in trouble if you are incorrect so never guess and instead verify before you write or speak.


  1. First, concentrate on the question—all of your other work will fail if you do not correctly understand the question. What is the prof (or the boss) asking for?. 

    Caution: In this course, I provide all topics for writing assignments ahead of time for two reasons:

·         So you have a chance to know what you need to read

·         So you can ask a question if you do not understand my question


  1. Second, look up all words that you do not use regularly and successfully in front of people who are experts in the discipline. Disciplines use words carefully.

Example: ballot, count, vote are different, but related words.

Caution: In this course, I will provide links to definitions for words that are central to understanding. Check those definitions.

Examples of words that are defined because they are different, but related words:

- For U.S. History I, definitions of words such as indenture, serf, servant, slave, and servitude

- For U.S. History II, definitions of words such as discrimination and segregation.


  1. Third, do two things at the beginning and end of your reading:

·         Before you start to read, stop and be sure what you are reading is appropriate for that question. (Once you start writing, you will not catch your error.)

Examples: Do not use information

- about New England to answer a question about the South or about the Middle Colonies

- about ranchers to answer a question about farmers


·         Before you stop reading, look to see if some other things happened or if some things changed.

- Notice the sentences (and sometimes pages) before and after what you are reading.  

Example: A truth that requires three sentences can be a falsehood if you only notice one of those sentences.

- Notice changes over time.

Example: What’s true in 1619 may be different after 1660—or in 1868 and after 1898.


Caution: In this course, I will provide resources so you have a chance to see interconnections and how history changes over time. Check those resources.


  1. Fourth, when you select your facts, make sure they are significant and representative. Do not cherry pick your facts. Check the definitions link for details, but cherry-picking facts means you have selected facts that are atypical or that ignore the contradictions covered in the section you are using.


  1. Fifth, when you read, observe carefully and constantly. Do not embellish your facts. Check the definitions link for details, but embellishing facts means adding more exciting details than the author of your source did. If the author of the required source (the textbook) does not give details, then you cannot—and you do not need to.

    Always n
    otice words that reveal limitations of a fact.


·         Verbs such as believed
(A person believed something. The historian did not say the person was right.)

·         Verbs such as wanted
(A person wanted to do something. The historian did not say the person succeeded.)

·         Nouns such as critics and supporters
(The historian has warned you of the person’s bias.)

·         Words indicating quantity such as few, many, most, and all.
(The historian has warned you of the limits. If she does not say all, then you do not either.



Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2019



WCJC Department:

History – Dr. Bibus

Contact Information:

281.239.1577 or bibusc@wcjc.edu

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