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Research Skills: Opinion Versus Fact

A step-by-step approach to ensure that you possess the key skills required to find, retrieve and evaluate information on your research topic.

Opinion

OPINIONS

  • Are personal beliefs or points of view which cannot  be proven
  • Are subjective
  • A valid opinion is one where respected authorities on the subject agree with the opinion taken by the writer

 The following statements illustrate the difference between a fact and an opinion:

  •  Durban is in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Durban is the most beautiful city in that Province.

 The first example is a fact because it can be verified by checking an atlas. The second statement, however, is an opinion as the writer is giving a personal point of view that is debatable.

Fact

FACTS

  • Are concrete information
  • Are verifiable in encyclopaedias, atlases, official government publications, reference books, etc.
  • Are expressed in precise numbers and quantities or weights and measures, etc.
  • Are generally not disputed as they are considered the truth

 There are two kinds of facts:                 

  • A defined fact which is created by consensus and is absolute, e.g. 5 + 1 = 6.
  • An empirical fact which has been discovered as a result of investigation and is now proven to be the truth, e.g. the earth orbits the sun.