There are several ways to seek help from a librarian:
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?
· Currency: publication dates can be important depending on whether you are doing a historical study or need to most recent information about your topic
· Relevancy: is the resource relevant to your topic (and the parameters of your assignment)?
· Authority: are the authors/editors/publishers considered credible and reliable?
o What are their credentials?
o Are they considered experts in the field? Do other scholars cite them?
· Accuracy: is the information valid?
o Do other sources say the same thing?
o What supporting evidence (e.g., references) is provided?
· Purpose: consider who the intended audience might be and how this could affect how the information is presented
o What is the context in which the information was created?
· Objectivity: could there be biases that might have an effect on the information presented?
o Who is funding/sponsoring the study?
o What are the author/editor’s affiliations? Is it possible that political viewpoints and/or religious beliefs might affect their objectivity?
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?
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.
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!
Click on the links below for more information about evaluating information sources:
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