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KATHRYN A. MARTIN LIBRARY

POL 4190 The Senior Seminar Research Guide

Fall 2018

Review the Basics

The topic of your class means that you will need to search for both current information and scholarly analysis. You can use these quick tutorials to brush up on types of information sources and how to use library databases in your search process.

Evaluating Information

When evaluating sources, ask yourself these critical questions:

Author: 

  • Who wrote this source? 
  • Do they have any relevant expertise, credentials, or experience?  
  • Do they have connections to groups/interests that might indicate bias? Look for potential conflicts of interest and remember that expertise ≠ bias. 

Point of view:

  • What is the author’s viewpoint on this topic? 
  • How does it relate to your point of view?

Audience:

  • What audience(s) is this article intended for?

Evidence:

  • What evidence does the author use to support their viewpoint (e.g. research data, interviews with experts, opinions, anecodotes)? 
  • Is it convincing? 

What’s missing?

  • What is missing from this source (e.g. perspectives, data, background information)? 
  • What kinds of additional information would be helpful to have in order to learn more about this topic?

Context:

  • How will you use this source in your research? (e.g., find links to more sources, get background information, make a counterargument, use to support your arguments)