So, what makes YOU an expert?

While preparing to send a short story to a literary magazine, I stumbled upon a statement at the very end of the submission guidelines. Warning, it said, one space after a period, not two. This is cause for Instant Rejection. Wow, I thought, good thing I always use one — and good thing I read the submission rules very carefully.

I posted the stern admonition on my writers’ group Facebook page for the sole purpose of warning my fellow writers to do just that: Carefully read the submission guidelines when submitting your work to a publisher.

But my original intention was lost in the furor over mention of the one-space/two-space rule. In a very short time span, I had over thirty comments on my post, each with a different opinion on the matter.

What occurred next (which tends to happen with us writers) is we all began to post articles to our blogs espousing either one rule or the other as being correct. While I know these people, and am aware of their credentials, it raises the question: How do we know the information we find on the Internet is reliable?

With the proliferation of blogs, now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant in verifying the reliability of our sources.

While surfing the web for research on this subject, I came across an article titled Evaluating Internet Research Sources, by Robert Harris.

I found it to be very comprehensive and erudite. Robert Harris uses what he calls “The CARS Checklist” to check Internet resources. The following chart was taken directly from his article:

  Summary of The CARS Checklist for Research Source Evaluation


trustworthy source, author’s credentials, evidence of quality control, known or respected authority, organizational support. Goal: an authoritative source, a source that supplies some good evidence that allows you to trust it.


up to date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive, audience and purpose reflect intentions of completeness and accuracy. Goal: a source that is correct today (not yesterday), a source that gives the whole truth.


fair, balanced, objective, reasoned, no conflict of interest, absence of fallacies or slanted tone. Goal: a source that engages the subject thoughtfully and reasonably, concerned with the truth.


listed sources, contact information, available corroboration, claims supported, documentation supplied. Goal: a source that provides convincing evidence for the claims made, a source you can triangulate (find at least two other sources that support it).

If you want to read the entire article, visit his website, Virtual Salt, for this and other very useful articles.

So, what makes you an expert? We should all be asking this question when we search online for information.

Works sited:
Harris, Robert. “Evaluating Internet Research Sources.”
VirtualSalt. 15 June 2007.  Sun. 27 Sept. 2009.

About Robert Harris


2 thoughts on “So, what makes YOU an expert?

  1. I pride myself on my ability to, on the one hand, provide unreliable information, and on the other, make people glad they read it.

    It’s like going to the deli. You buy a sandwich, and it has one pickle that goes with it. Not two, but one.


    1. George, You ALWAYS leave good info — very fun to read also!

      And, while one pickle is yummy, two would just be overkill. 😉

      Seriously, though, this goes for all the info we gather online, not just for writing grammar and punctuation.



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