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Evaluating Sources

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How to determine if information sources are credible and appropriate for your purpose.

How to determine if information sources are credible and appropriate for your purpose.

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  • http://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits/000599
  • Transcript

    • 1. Click anywhere to continue.
    • 2. Now you know a little more about how to find sources, both from the library catalog and the GALILEO databases.
    • 3. The next step is to be sure that the sources you find are appropriate for the kind of research you’re trying to do.
    • 4. Why do you need the information?
    • 5. Why do you need the information? Is it for… an assignment? -a paper? a project?
    • 6. Why do you need the information? Is it for… an assignment? -a paper? a project? a project outside of class? -career help? a personal research project?
    • 7. Why do you need the information? Is it for … an assignment? -a paper? a project? a project outside of class? -career help? a personal research project? personal entertainment? -a recipe, the latest Hollywood gossip, your favorite meme?
    • 8. Regardless of the purpose for researching the information, it’s important to make sure that the information is reliable and trustworthy.
    • 9. To get an idea of the appropriateness and credibility of a source, ask yourself these questions:
    • 10. Who?
    • 11. Who? What?
    • 12. Who? What? When?
    • 13. Who? What? When? Where?
    • 14. Who? What? When? Where? Why?
    • 15. Let’s look at an example …
    • 16. Surge needs to write a paper for English class about effective student study skills.
    • 17. He has already searched the library catalog and the GALILEO databases and is now looking for some sources on the Internet. He found an Internet source he might want to use, but first he wants to evaluate it.
    • 18. The resource looks like this:
    • 19. First, Surge needs to know …
    • 20. Who? Who wrote or presented this information? Does the person have the qualifications to be presenting this information? Is he or she trustworthy?
    • 21. Clues 0Check for authority of the author by asking:
    • 22. Clues 0Check for authority of the author by asking: 0Does the writer have a degree in the subject? What are his or her affiliations (where does the author work)?
    • 23. Clues 0Check for authority of the author by asking: 0Does the writer have a degree in the subject? What are his or her affiliations (where does the author work)? 0What do others in the field think about this person?
    • 24. Clues 0Check for authority of the author by asking: 0Does the writer have a degree in the subject? What are his or her affiliations (where does the author work)? 0What do others in the field think about this person? 0What else has this person written about the topic? Is he or she an expert?
    • 25. Surge notices that the article is written by someone with an advanced degree. That’s a good sign!
    • 26. At the bottom we find even more information about the author. Well, so far this author seems like an expert!
    • 27. Next, Surge needs to know …
    • 28. What? What is the content in the source? Is it relevant to his topic of study?
    • 29. Clues 0Check for relevance in:
    • 30. Clues 0Check for relevance in: 0 The title
    • 31. Clues 0Check for relevance in: 0 The title 0 An abstract if there is one
    • 32. Clues 0Check for relevance in: 0 The title 0 An abstract if there is one 0 Subject headings or table of contents if they are present
    • 33. Clues 0Check for relevance in: 0 The title 0 An abstract if there is one 0 Subject headings or table of contents if they are present 0 A scan of the article
    • 34. Surge can see from the title and a scan of the article that the article is about effective study habits for students. He determines that this is relevant to his query.
    • 35. Next, Surge asks …
    • 36. When? How current is the information? Is it outdated?
    • 37. Clues 0Check for currency by looking:
    • 38. Clues 0Check for currency by looking: 0 For a date in the citation if you’re looking at a journal article in a database
    • 39. Clues 0Check for currency by looking: 0 For a date in the citation if you’re looking at a journal article in a database 0 After the title or at the bottom of the article from a website
    • 40. Surge checks the site for date information. He sees the following note at the bottom of the page: It looks like the material was reviewed very recently. That means the data is likely up-to-date.
    • 41. The next question for Surge to ask is …
    • 42. Where? Where did this information come from? Is it cited? Is it sponsored by an organization with a bias? Is the information trustworthy?
    • 43. Clues 0To check for accuracy and bias, ask
    • 44. Clues 0To check for accuracy and bias, ask 0 Is this a controversial topic?
    • 45. Clues 0To check for accuracy and bias, ask 0 Is this a controversial topic? 0 Is the language of this article trying to lead me to believe something?
    • 46. Clues 0To check for accuracy and bias, ask 0 Is this a controversial topic? 0 Is the language of this article trying to lead me to believe something? 0 Is the data sound? Could another conclusion be made based on the data? Is there data missing?
    • 47. Clues 0To check for accuracy and bias, ask 0 Is this a controversial topic? 0 Is the language of this article trying to lead me to believe something? 0 Is the data sound? Could another conclusion be made based on the data? Is there data missing? 0 Are there many grammatical errors? Is the article well-structured and organized?
    • 48. Surge can see that this article is on a website sponsored by Psych Central. What is Psych Central? He clicks on the About link at the bottom of the page.
    • 49. Here is what Surge finds: Psych Central is independently run and has a legacy of providing unbiased information.
    • 50. Surge also finds: The site has credentials and is wholly owned by a professional in the field. Looks good!
    • 51. One more question for Surge to answer …
    • 52. Why? For what purpose is this information being offered? Does the purpose match his own?
    • 53. Clues 0To determine the purpose of a source, ask:
    • 54. Clues 0To determine the purpose of a source, ask: 0 What vocabulary and language is used? Is it for the general public or an expert scholar?
    • 55. Clues 0To determine the purpose of a source, ask: 0 What vocabulary and language is used? Is it for the general public or an expert scholar? 0 Is the platform of the information flashy and exciting, or simple? Is the source trying to entertain or inform?
    • 56. Clues 0To determine the purpose of a source, ask: 0 What vocabulary and language is used? Is it for the general public or an expert scholar? 0 Is the platform of the information flashy and exciting, or simple? Is the source trying to entertain or inform? 0 Are there advertisements?
    • 57. Clues 0To determine the purpose of a source, ask: 0 What vocabulary and language is used? Is it for the general public or an expert scholar? 0 Is the platform of the information flashy and exciting, or simple? Is the source trying to entertain or inform? 0 Are there advertisements? 0 Can you see where the author is getting his or her information? Are there citations or a works cited list?
    • 58. Why does Surge need information? He needs it for an assignment. In general, when you need information for an assignment, you should start your search in the library catalog and GALILEO, not the Internet.
    • 59. However, if an Internet source passes all your standards, you might be able to use it for your research.
    • 60. However, if an Internet source passes all your standards, you might be able to use it for your research. What is the purpose of Surge’s source? It isn’t necessarily for scholarly research— the site is available to provide medical advice to the public.
    • 61. However, it does provide a citation, indicating that scholarly use might be expected. Surge will proceed with caution, but use this resource for his research.
    • 62. Remember, evaluation of sources continues after you have chosen to read a source in-depth.
    • 63. Remember, evaluation of sources continues after you have chosen to read a source in-depth. Read critically and watch for authority and trustworthiness.
    • 64. If you have questions, you can always ask a librarian! Email us at libref@gsw.edu

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