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Chemistry Writing - Spring 2017 (21:160:350): Evaluating Resources

This guide was specifically created for Dr. Mendelsohn's class - Spring 2017

Ask-A-Librarian

There are several ways to seek help from a librarian:

Rutgers Libraries Toolbar

The Rutgers University Libraries Toolbar is a free Firefox extension (or add-on) that:

  • provides a drop-down menu to library resources
  • embeds library links on popular Websites such as Amazon.com
  • offers special functionality when you highlight terms on a Website and right-click over them with your mouse
  • allows linking from ISBNs, ISSNs, PubMed IDs, and DOIs to Rutgers-restricted online resources
  • is easy to install and easy to use

For more information, click on the link below:

How to Evaluate Sources

You must evaluate all sources that you find - yes, even those found on library shelves or within the library’s databases!  So, what do you need to look for?

· Relevancy of resource to your topic

· Currency – unless you’re doing a historical study, you’re probably going to want only the most recent sources for your science papers/projects

· Authority/credibility/reliability of authors/editors/publishers

o What are their credentials?

o Are they considered experts in the field?  Do other scholars cite their works?

· Accuracy / validity

o Do other sources say the same thing?

o What supporting evidence (e.g., references) is provided?

· Biases – may have an effect on the information presented

o Who is funding/sponsoring the study?

o What are the author/editor’s affiliations?  Political viewpoints?  Religious beliefs?

o Is there balanced coverage, where all aspects of the subject are discussed to the same level of detail?

o Is it just-the-facts being presented or an interpretation of the facts?

o Are assumptions or opinions being made without supporting evidence?

o What is the context in which the information was created?

· Purpose & intended audience – this affects how the information is presented

· Referrals – Further Reading suggestions or hyperlinks if it’s a Web site

 


TIP:  The general rule of thumb has been that .gov (and most .edu) Web sites are usually reliable; however, you should evaluate those just as you would the .org and .com sites!


Also consider - is it "good" research?  Think about the following... 

o Design of study:  is the design appropriate to the problem/question being studied? 

o Data Collectors:  how qualified were they?

o Sampling:  how many subjects were studied and how were they chosen?

o Statistics:  how sound is the approach/method used?

     o Bias:  in sampling, due to sponsorship of research, etc.

 


Click on the links below for more information about evaluating information sources:

Physical Sciences Librarian

Bonnie Fong's picture
Bonnie Fong
Contact:
John Cotton Dana Library

185 University Ave

Newark, NJ 07102-1814

(973) 353-3811

Licensing Information

This guide is copyright-protected, but you are welcome to reuse it as per the license below (click for more details):