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A Guide for International Students at USA: Evaluating Resources

Basic Criteria for Evaluating

Deciding which information from which sources to use is an important step in writing a research paper. Select information that applies directly to your thesis statement and that comes from reputable and respected sources. Below is a list of standards to apply to book, magazine or website sources:

1. Publisher — who published or sponsored this work? Are they reputable?

2. Credentials — who is the author (or authors)? Are qualifications or degrees listed?

3. Accuracy — can the information be verified in other respected sources?

4. Currency — is the information’s publishing date current enough for the topic of the research paper? For subject area that change frequently, like medicine, politics or finance, use the most up-to-date information.

5. Bias — does the author or publisher express an opinion (example: newspaper editorial) or is the information factual (like statistics). Does bias affect the information’s accuracy ? 6. Audience Audience Audience — who is the information written for — a specific readership, level of expertise or age/grade level? Is the audience focus appropriate for a research paper?  

Periodicals Evaluation

Scholarly versus Popular

Periodicals are print sources that are published weekly, monthly or quarterly, such as magazines, newspapers and journals. Instructors may require a variety of sources or limit sources to scholarly journals. Both Electronic Journal Center (all scholarly) and Academic Search Premier (check peer-reviewed from options) provide full-text scholarly journals.

Scholarly Journals  — contain articles written by professionals in the field. The articles may be original research or an extension of previous research, illustrated with graphs, tables and have a list of references at the end. Articles submitted to a scholarly journal are peer-reviewed or juried, meaning other experts read and suggest revisions to the author before the final version is accepted for publication.

Popular magazines — are not in-depth enough to be s Popular magazines cholarly. The magazine may have a an area of interest. Parenting is devoted to raising children and Time is a news magazine, but the articles are intended as overviews for general readers. Authors may or may not be named, there may be illustrations or charts, but there won't be a bibliography at the end.  

Websites Evaluation

Beyond the criteria mentioned for all resources look for additional proof of value in websites. Some hoax sites look very credible until viewed with a critical eye.

1. Mission/Vision/Purpose Statement —reveals purpose of the website and point of view.

2. Credentials Credentials Credentials — a well-regarded sponsoring organization or an expert author. (Webpage content may not list an individual author.)

3. Date of last revision — this reveals how recently the content of a website has been reviewed.

4. Contact information — is there a physical address and telephone number the researcher can use to contact a real person with questions?

5. Loaded language — words that assign emotional value can be used to manipulate attitude. “Patriot” sounds better than “vigilante,” “insurgency” less scary than “civil war.”

6. Links — do other reputable websites link to the website and does it link to other reputable sites. 

Ask Helps for Evaluating Resources

The Liaison Librarians can help you evaluate information

The liaison librarians can help you with your research paper and projects.  Our services including help you refine your topic, create a bibliography, find resources, find articles, and more.  Email us and make an appointment with your liaison librarian. 

Before come to the appointment, you should remember:

  1. Evaluated the quality of the information you've found
  2. Created something new from what you’ve learned
  3. Used the information to make a conclusion about your topic


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