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KATHRYN A. MARTIN LIBRARY

American Indian Studies Research Guide

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)

Why Use Library Resources?

Google and Wikipedia are great starting points for gaining background information on a topic. As you dig deeper into your research, you will need to go beyond these basic sources. Here’s why:

  • Not everything is openly accessible on the internet. The library subscribes to high quality resources that are not freely available online.
  • A Google search will find thousands or millions of results. Library resources provide options to help you filter your search and make it more manageable.
  • Keep in mind that anyone can create or edit content online. Using library resources, you can more easily find sources written by experts.
  • High quality sources will help you learn more about your topic and form a stronger argument in your research assignments. Good research takes time, but it will be worth it!

What is a Peer Reviewed Journal?

  • Your instructors may frequently require you to find peer-reviewed articles for your assignments. These can also be called academic journal articles or scholarly articles. 
  • Academic journals are how experts communicate with each other about what’s going on in their field.
  • Authors of articles are experts in the field who want to share their research findings with other experts. 
  • Before publication, the author’s peers review the article and evaluate it to decide if it should be published, revised, or rejected. While this process is designed to ensure that published articles meet high standards for quality, originality, and legitimacy, it still important to evaluate academic articles critically.

Identifying Resources by Type

 

Scholarly Journals

Trade Magazines

Popular Magazines

 

Purpose

 

Communicate research and scholarly ideas

Provide trends, information, and professional support to particular industry

Provide information and entertainment to general readers

Appearance

Simple cover design, few images or ads. Some include charts, graphs, statistics

Images/advertisements relate to trade

Colorful, many images and lots of advertising

Authors

Experts in the field, Researchers. Author names, credentials, and institutional affiliation listed

Magazine staff or writers affiliated with the trade/industry. Often published by trade organization or assoc.

Journalists, freelance writers, magazine staff (names often not given)

Audience

Scholars, researchers, students

Practitioners in the field, members of a particular profession

General public

Article Length

Tend to be longer, may include research, in-depth analysis, very specific focus

Length varies

Typically shorter articles, from less than 1 page to several pages.

Content

Original research, literary criticism and theory, literature review, in-depth analysis of topic

Articles about professional trends, new products or techniques, and industry-related news

Short, feature-length articles. News and general interest topics

Writing Style

Uses terminology, language and jargon relevant to the discipline

Technical, field-specific language used, assumes readers familiar with industry

Simple language used, written for general public

References

or

Bibliographies

Articles typically include references, notes, works cited

Articles sometimes have references listed

References typically not listed

Examples

Shakespeare Quarterly

Journal of the American Medical Association

Journal of Political Economy

Automotive News

Strategy & Business

 Advertising Age

Newsweek

Rolling Stone

Sports Illustrated