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Basic Library Research & Writing: 9. Evaluating Sources

Research

Popular vs. Scholarly Resources

If your instructor has asked you to watch library videos and take quizzes, you need to do that through the Information Literacy course in Blackboard. The course should be listed under your Blackboard list of "My Courses" in the left navigation menu.

Information and Critical Thinking

If your instructor has asked you to watch library videos and take quizzes, you need to do that through the Information Literacy course in Blackboard. The course should be listed under your Blackboard list of "My Courses" in the left navigation menu.

Evaluating Information for Reliability

If your instructor has asked you to watch library videos and take quizzes, you need to do that through the Information Literacy course in Blackboard. The course should be listed under your Blackboard list of "My Courses" in the left navigation menu.

Evaluating Sources

It is not enough to find information. You must also be able to identify if it is authoritative, and to evaluate it for yourself. Would you buy just any car without finding out some information about it from someone you trust? Of course not! Otherwise you could get a bad deal. Likewise, if you use bad information in an assignment, you can get a bad grade. And no one wants that!

The videos on this page will help you learn how to make good decisions regarding the information that you use. Please watch them. Additional information appears below.

Popular vs Scholarly Resources

It is important to be able to identify whether a piece of information is popular or scholarly for your own needs, including what a professor may be requiring. Please watch the appropriate video on this page.

Because faculty often require students to use articles from peer-reviewed journals, some additional information is provided here. Peer-reviewed articles are written by experts AND have been reviewed by other experts before the article is allowed to be published. This increases the likelihood of its authoritativeness and accuracy.  Just because a piece of information appears in a peer reviewed journal does not mean it is peer-reviewed. Some items in peer-reviewed journals, such as editorials, book reviews, and letters to the editor have not necessarily been reviewed for accuracy before publication.  

To quickly limit a search to peer-reviewed journals (but not necessarily articles), U-Search and many databases often have an option that you can check (or tab you can select) to reduce your results to items from these journals. If you already have an article and wonder if it may have come from a peer-reviewed journal, you can search for that journal title in the Library database Ulrichsweb to see if  the journal is peer-reviewed.

Information and Critical Thinking

Please watch the appropriate video on this page. For your convenience, I have included the CABLE method for evaluating information below:

C - Currency: Is this information as up-to-date as you need it to be? CHECK THE DATE! If there is no date, consider other sources.

R - Relevance: Is the information given relevant to your research question and your scholarly needs? Is it too basic or technical?

A - Authoritativeness: Does the author have RELEVANT background or credentials that make you trust the information? Remember, you wouldn't go to a skin doctor for a heart issue, so don't use "authorities" who aren't qualified.

- Accuracy: Can you see where the information comes from (a neutral or biased party) and if its supported by the evidence? Has the information been peer reviewed? Can you verify the information from a neutral source?

P - What was the purpose of the source, to inform, persuade, entertain? Is the source biased? Look at the words and context, are they meant to raise your emotions? Information can be accurate, but can also be manipulated to serve a biased perspective. 

 

-Mark Allan