Decision Making Resources Study Guide
The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities and make the most of one's resources.
Luc de Clapiers, French writer and moralist (1715–1747)
Sometimes when you have to make an important decision, you don't have all the facts you need to help you make the best choice. Other times, especially at work or school, you may be asked to produce evidence to justify a decision you've made. In this lesson, you'll discover the best ways to find the information you need to make and justify decisions and solutions to problems.
Many decisions and solutions don't require a lot of work. After all, you don't need to gather much information to decide when to study for an exam or whether to bake a pie or a cake. You already know the facts, so you simply use them to make a wise decision. But what if you don't know which facts to base a decision on? What if there are things you aren't familiar with that really need to be considered? That's where thinking critically comes into play. You do whatever you can to find accurate information about the missing details, knowing that the quality of a decision is only as good as the information used to make it.
Let's look at three resources that can supply information to help you make decisions: the Internet, the library, and human sources. We'll explore each, when to use it, how to get the most out of it, and its possible shortcomings.
Research on the Internet doesn't have to be confusing, even though you can literally access billions of websites. You just need to know what you're looking for and the best way to find it. There are three basic investigative methods. The first is to use a search engine, like www. google.com, www.ask.com, or www.bing.com, where you enter a topic, or words that relate to the topic, and are provided links to sites with information about that topic. But search engines don't always distinguish between useful and not-so-useful sites. They simply list everything, sometimes thousands of links that seems to meet your search criteria.
Another way to search the Internet is by using subject directories. The great advantage of this method is that the sites the directories list have been chosen by qualified people. Websites deemed to be of poor quality are less likely to make the directory. Some directories even hire experts in various fields to write guides to their chosen subjects and also to provide links to related sites. Recommended subject directories include:
- About.com: thousands of subjects with links to a million websites
- Academic Info: consistently maintained to add free educational resources (for late high school level and above) while weeding out outdated ones
- Librarians' Internet Index: over 20,000 Internet resources selected as "the best" by librarians
- Infomine: aimed at university-level instructors and students, contains 110,000 Internet resources selected by university librarians
- The third way to find what you are looking for on the Internet is to search directly on a site at which you believe the information may be found. Here is a short list of such sites.
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