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Library Research for CECAS Students: Research 2 - Evaluate Sources

John Oliver 1

Use your PAWS

P - Point of View and Purpose

A - Age

W - Writer

S - Source

Evaluating Resources

Beyond the Checklist: evaluating the quality of information from the web

Use sources that have been reviewed by experts

Instead of searching for hours trying to find websites that meet stringent requirements, try using library resources to identify good quality sources that have already been through a review process.  Try these databases for starters:

Academic Search Complete -multi subject database of scholarly and popular articles

Engineering Village - more in-depth scientific and technical articles

Compare the information found in your website with content from other websites, or from reviewed sources

Comparing sources can also alert you to controversial information or bias that will need further study.  Are facts from one website the same as another?  How about depth of coverage?  Maybe one site has better quality of information.  Does the site have photos or other unique features?  If not, perhaps a journal article from a library database is a better source.  Until you compare several sources, you won't know what you're missing!

Corroborate the Information

Verify that the facts from your source - regardless of where you found it - against one or more different sources.  Don't take the word of one person or organization.  A simple rule might be "do not use information unless you have corroborated it.  Corroboration with varied and reviewed sources increases the probability of success."

Source:
Meola, Marc. (2004). Chucking the Checklist: A Contextual Approach to Teaching Undergraduates Web-Site Evaluation. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 4 (3), 331-344.