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ST 2050 The Scientific Method: Evaluate

This guide will help ST2050 students to locate, evaluate, and cite resources.

Why Evaluate?

So you have found some articles to use in your project. That means you're done with your research, right? Unfortunately, you are not quite finished.

One of the most important steps in the research process is to evaluate the information that you have found. Critical evaluation of information, be it an article, a book, or a website, will help you to determine whether or not a resource is appropriate to use. Once you have located some articles for your projects using University Libraries' resources, make sure to examine those resources with a critical eye before continuing with your project.

How To Evaluate

Examine your information with the following points in mind. These tips work well for evaluating articles, books, & web resources.

  • Currency

When was the information written? Does it matter to your research if the information is current, or is older information also useful?

  • Relevance

Does the information answer your question and meet your requirements? Is it entirely about your topic or are there just a few sentences about your topic? Is the information geared toward your level; is it too advanced or too elementary? If there is an abstract, scan the abstract. Does the description match your topic?

  • Authority

Who is the author/creator? Does he/she have a background that would suggest knowledge of the topic? Is the author associated with a reputable organization? Is contact or biographical information provided?

  • Accuracy

Where does the information come from? Is it backed up by evidence or just opinion? Is it substantiated in other sources? Are there misspellings and grammatical errors?

  • Purpose

Why was the information written? To inform? To persuade? To sell? Are the intentions of the article made clear? Is the information presented objectively? Are there any biases present?

Read more about this evaluative process, also known as the CRAAP test.

Evaluation Resources

This guide produced by Cornell University's library is a great resource for evaluating information. While geared more toward analyzing traditional types of information (i.e. articles and books), it can also be applied to many web resources.

From New Mexico State University, this guide includes links to examples of both "good" and "bad" websites.

This guide, produced by the University of Berkley, gives you some general tips for evaluating web resources.

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