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Research Guide: Logos, Pathos, Ethos, and the Evaluation of Information

This guide introduces new researchers to how to plan their search for information.

What are Logos, Pathos, and Ethos?

Logos, Pathos, and Ethos are the three primary forms of persuasion.

So, what does that have to do with evaluating resources?

Everything! Ethos, Logos, and Pathos are important when you are trying to persuade other people, but other people are going to try to persuade you too. Remember when someone gives a speech, writes a paper, or even makes a post on the internet, they have a PURPOSE, and you need to carefully consider what that is.

ETHOS

First, let's consider ETHOS, where the author/speaker attempts to establish their authority and credibility.

Do the authors provide their credentials? If not, why? Are they experts in the field? Do they have AUTHORITY?

Do they reference credible sources and provide the information needed for the audience to find and check them? Do they demonstrate a concern for ACCURACY?

Pathos

PATHOS is the technique where the author tries to persuade the reader/listener with emotion.While a powerful persuasive technique, it often exposes the author's BIAS, and can be a clue to figuring out what the authors PURPOSE is.

 

When evaluating a resource to determine whether it has useful information, it is important to separate the author's emotional appeals from their central argument.

 

An important point to consider: Is the author putting forward their own emotions, or are they choosing what they think will best manipulate their audience?

Logos

LOGOS is the use of logic and facts to persuade. While it may be the most boring, it is also the most important thing to look for when evaluating resources. This makes up the core of a persuasive argument (or at least it should!).

 

Does the author use FACTS and STATISTICS? If so, do they support the ACCURACY of those facts by providing citations so that they can be checked?

 

Of course, it's important that the author includes facts, but do they also clearly explain how those facts support their claim? When writing, be sure to explain each step of your argument, and when evaluating other people's arguments, be sure to see if there are any gaps in theirs.

Identifying Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

CRAAP

Ask yourself: Is this source CRAAP?

Check the source for:

Currency:   When was the source made and was it updated recently?

Relevance: Is it related to your topic and what is its intended audience?

Authority:    Who are the authors and what are their qualifications? (If you can't find the name of the author or a sponsoring organization, be very careful with that website/source.)

Accuracy:   Where does the information on the page come from, is supporting evidence given, and has the information been reviewed by others.

Purpose:    What is the purpose of the source: to entertain, persuade, or inform? Is the page impartial or biased?