Factual Accuracy That Is Verifiable for Every Statement You Make

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


If a boss (or professor) asks you for the proof of something that you said or wrote, you must be able to state:

·         The name of the reliable source—one that the boss (or professor) considers reliable

·         Exactly where (a specific page) in that source that each fact came from (whether you wrote the words or the author did).


With bosses (or professors), you cannot just claim that a specific page provides evidence. If a reasonable person using a reliable dictionary and reading the entire passage on that page would not agree that you provided evidence, then neither will your boss (or professor).


If you follow the method for preparing to write a practical essay to read, analyze, and create a short list of possible things you will cover, you will have your reminders for what content you plan to cover and the page number where you can find that content.

Do make sure to build double checking into your habits. What is to double check? It is to check something that has already been checked.  (FYI: This section is repeated in the prevention link available from  Good Habits for Evidence 4 and 5.)


For some people, it helps to use another sense (such as touching or hearing) to help yourself spot your own errors:

1.     With citations, by touching. You touch the fact in the source and then in your paper (or in your list of what you plan to write in your paper). This method shows how to use another sense (tactile) to help your brain pay attention.

2.     With quotations, by touching and saying each syllable distinctly. You not only touch each letter in the source and in your paper, but also say each syllable aloud. Increasing numbers of students are making themselves (or the authors they are quoting) sound illiterate. When you read things aloud, your ear tells you what your inexperience with language and your eye can’t recognize.

The textbook stated: “By a vote of seven to one in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, the justices upheld the Louisiana law and by implication, the principle of segregation. “

The student wrote: The Supreme Court vote[d] of seven to one. (I have made the “” larger here and below to make them easier to see.) – Read every syllable aloud and you will know that of in orange does not belong in the sentence that the student wrote. If you don’t know why, I’ll be glad to explain.


What could the student have done?  Followed the Brain Trick in this link, and quoted a smaller section and changed only his own words—the only ones he had a right to change. The student could have written several versions. The one shown is the simplest.

The student could have safely written: The Supreme Court voted seven to one.


Don’t fail at something uselessly fancy when you could succeed with something simple. Consider this:

·         When you try something fancy when you don’t know how to do it, you lose credibility.

·         When you do something simple correctly, you gain credibility.


When you are figuring out the content and planning what you will write, double check to be sure:

·         That the facts that you write in your own words are in the source on the page you cite.
Regardless of the citation requirements for a particular assignment from your professor or your boss, you should always know where you found the facts that you say are true.
Caution: It is the only safe way to thinkand pass the course or keep your job.

·         That any quotation (“” around the author’s exact words) that you have used meets 2 requirements:
1) any changes you made to the author’s words are clearly revealed according to the rules used in The Bedford Handbook
2) any changes you have made to the author’s words have not made the author’s sentences look grammatically incorrect

Do not misuse what the author owns
, neither the author’s words or her reputation as skilled with language. For a freshman student, the only safe way I have seen to meet those 2 requirements is to use the
Brain Trick in this link.
Caution: Frequently students who fail
to meet those 2 requirements (above) also change the meaning (below). Once you are careless in misusing the author’s words and reputation, you won’t be able to recognize you misunderstood the meaning.

·         That the facts that are in the author’s words are unchanged – Do not change the author’s meaning. Placing quotation marks (“”) around the author’s words does not give you permission to change things. It increases your obligation to be accurate.

Details about Citations for Facts That You Write in Your Own Words or Facts in the Author’s Words (Quotations)

Whether a fact in your own words or in the author’s words (a quotation), there must be a specific place in the source as evidence, beyond your own feelings or memory. Providing citations is not enough. In this course, you cannot just assert that a fact is true by providing a citation.


I will compare your quotations with the source.

·         The quotation must be accurate according to the 2 requirements above.

·         If I cannot find the meaning that you say the author had, you will need to show me where you were reading.


I will compare your writing and your citations with the source:

·         The citations must be accurate.

·         If I cannot easily find a fact on the page you cited, you will need to show me where you were reading.

To repeat what is stated in the top of this webpage, if a reasonable person using a reliable dictionary and reading the entire passage on that page would not agree that you provided evidence, then neither will your boss (or professor)—and neither will I.



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



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History – Dr. Bibus

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