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SUNY Erie Library Resource Center


This guide will help explain what podcasts are, how to access them and offer some recommendations for quality podcasts

What is a podcast?

A Podcast is as per the Cambridge Dictionary isa broadcast that is placed on the Internet for anyone who wants to listen to it or watch it:” (Cambridge Dictionary). Think of it as a series recorded radio show episodes (although some podcasts also include video elements), posted on the Internet that you can download or stream. Unlike the radio you do not have to listen at a specific time, you can start or stop listening to any available episode whenever you want. Episodes are released on a schedule unique to each podcast. Some release one episode every month while others release five or more a day. 

What Subjects Do Podcasts Cover?

What do podcasts talk about? Whatever you can think of! There are podcasts on the news, comedy, cooking, entrepreneurship, literary analysist, history, television fandoms and more. If you are interested in a topic, there is a very good chance there is a podcast about it. Remember however that there are few if any rules in terms of content so not all podcasts may be interesting, high quality or suitable for all audiences.  In fact the number of podcasts can be a bit overwhelming so we here at the library have picked out of few podcasts in a variety of topics in the Recommended Podcasts tab to the left.  

Where can I find a Podcast?

Each podcast usually has their own website where you can download or stream their episodes onto your computer or smartphone. There are also a series of apps or aggregator websites where you can look at a large number of podcasts and subscribe or download episodes as you please.

Can I Use a Podcast as a Reference?

A question you no doubt have as college students is, can I use these wonderful podcasts as references in my assignments?

The answer is it depends. The quality of information in a podcast varies greatly. They may be published by a respected organization or individual who carefully researches and cites all of there work. Or it could be just a group of people messing around in front of a microphone. Much like the Internet as a whole, there is no official editorial board for all podcasts insuring quality and accuracy. While we will try to provide you with quality recommended podcasts here on this libguide, you should still review each podcast for reliability just like any other resource you find.

One way to do this is to put the podcast through the CRAAP test.

Currency- Ask when was this podcast published? Has it been updated or corrected recently? You generally want information that is as current as possible.

Relevance-Ask if the information in this podcast is actually something that would be useful for your assignment? Who was this podcast made for (i.e. what is the intended audience)? Is the information provided at an appropriate level for your assignment, not too simple and not too complicated?

Authority-Who is the podcaster(s), interviewees (if they have them), publisher, source, and/or sponsor for this podcast? What are the credentials and affiliations of those who are on the podcast? Are they qualified to speak on the topic they are talking about? Remember if you can't find the real name of the podcaster or the publisher then chances are it's not a good scholarly sources.

Accuracy-Where does the information in the podcast come from? Is the information supported by evidence? Has the information been reviewed or refereed? Can you verify the information from other sources? Often podcast will direct you to their website for additional articles or reference notes that their podcast was based on. Take the time to go to these referenced resources and check to make sure they are also of good quality. If they cite other works, you can use that as a jumping off point to find more resources to add to your assignment.

Purpose- What is the purpose of this podcast? Are they for entertainment? News? Are the host explicitly advocating from a certain point of view? Do the podcasters make their bias's clear from the start? Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda? Does the podcaster's point of view seem objective and impartial? Remember it is ok if the podcast has a bias, most media does, what is important that the podcaster admit their bias up front, provides information as accurately as possible and is at least honestly acknowledges other view points.