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Research Workshop, Getting Started, Allegheny: Evaluating Resources

This guide for introductory level students highlights resources available on the library website including OneSearch, finding datatbases by subject and citing sources for the Allegheny Campus Research Workshops.

Why Evaluate?

There is so much information out there in the world, especially via the Internet, that it can be overwhelming.  So, how do you know what is valid, appropriate, and credible?  You need to evaluate your resources to make sure they are of good quality for your research paper.  Some points to remember:

  • The information and resources you use for your research papers should reflect the quality, authority, perspective, and balance that best supports the topic you have selected for your research paper.  This is especially true when using Internet resources.
  • If you use poor quality sources, your research paper could contain errors, overly-biased information or out-of-date facts
  • Knowing how to evaluate will help you make better decisions in other areas of your life, such as finding accurate medical information, voting on issues during election time, presenting reliable information to your coworkers in a meeting...etc.
  • Using the criteria in this step will help you become more skilled and knowledgeable in evaluating resources; and as a result, your research papers will be credible.

iLearningServices. "SMART: Evaluating Sources." YouTube. 2 May 2011. Web. 15 July 2014.

Basic Criteria to Evaluate Resources

The following are some general, basic criteria to consider when evaluating all your resources.  

Does the information presented seem accurate? Are the facts verifiable?

Who is the author? What expertise does he or she have on this topic? Who sponsors the site? Check the domain name (.org, .edu, .gov, etc.) to determine if it is a university, business, organization, or an individual.

What is the stated purpose of the site? Check the "About..." link on a web page if there is one. What position or opinion is presented and does it seem biased? What kind of sites does this one link to?

On what date was the page created? Do you need more current information? Do links on the site still work?

Would you quote information from this site in a college research paper?


 Follow the steps below to learn better research skills:

 1. Start Smart    2. Develop a Topic    3. Find Information    4. Evaluate    5. Cite Sources

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