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Exercise 6 - Towards academic reading
This exercise focuses on questions you can ask yourself to help you understand and critically evaluate data.

Examples of these questions include:

Do these data come from a reliable source?

How were these data collected and by whom?

Which data should I pay attention to?

What additional data should I be looking for in order to help me understand these data?
Look at the 2 graphs below.

If we look only at the first graph, it seems as if America has a serious problem:
For the last thirty years, the amount of money America owes to other countries has increased every year.

But before we reach any conclusions, we need to ask:
What additional data should I look for to help me understand these data?
The second graph shows us a very different picture. Although America's debt is increasing steadily, this amount is also steadily decreasing in relation to her gross domestic product (gdp - value of all goods and services produced inside the borders of a country in a year). This second graph gives us the background we need to interpret the first graph.

We also need to ask if these data are reliable. Both graphs come from Wikipedia - a source that anyone can edit and change. This means that we need to check the original source of these data, and Wikipedia gives a link to this source:

USA Government,http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2009/pdf/hist.pdf
What is the main message of the above text?
Click on the three answers that best complete this sentence.

Before reaching any conclusions based on data, we need to...
graphs showing how much America owes

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