Validity asks the question, "How do we know what we know?" Every field of study answers that question differently, but there are some ideas that are generally considered invalid, no matter whether an information source is scholarly or non-scholarly, and no matter what discipline or subject area it falls under.
In an earlier section, we talked about how the intended audience and purpose of an information source can slant the information in it. The concepts of ideology, agenda and bias are related to that.
A credible information source will not try to tell you how to feel about the information.
Literature, the arts, history, philosophy, theology...
In the humanities, the author is either constructing a worldview, or (more often) adding to, refining, and correcting a worldview that other scholars have created. That worldview needs to be self-consistent and consistent with the evidence. It needs to be able to support new discoveries and insights. And it often needs to be beautiful.
Here are some criteria for validity that can be generalized in the humanities:
Psychology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, economics...
The social sciences try to explain human minds and human societies using scientific method, but they are limited in how they can apply scientific method because of the practical and ethical problems that arise when you try to experiment on or observe human beings, communities, and cultures under controlled conditions.
Mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, astronomy, environmental science...
The sciences pursue data about natural phenomena, with the goal of formulating theories that explain and predict those phenomena.
There is probably an applied field for every academic field. Especially consider business, engineering, computer science, nursing, education...
The applied fields are all about carrying out the activities of the everyday world. In the applied fields, consider the criteria for validity that are used by the related academic disciplines. In education, consider the validity criteria for psychology and sociology. In engineering, consider the validity criteria for chemistry and physics.
Also bear in mind that the applied fields are practical, and so they care about what works in practice.
Please note: If you need to request accommodations with content linked to on this guide, on the basis of a disability, please contact Disability Services by emailing them at Disability.Services@esc.edu. Requests for accommodations should be submitted as early as possible to allow for sufficient planning. If you have questions, please visit the disability services website http://www.esc.edu/disabilityservices.