Library Research Guide
Now that you know how to locate sources, it is important that you evaluate the resources that you intend to use. As you read through available sources and literature, be sure to read critically and completely. It is often best to go over a source more than once. You may pick out details on a 2nd or 3rd pass that you previously missed.
Is an organization mentioned in relation to an article? Think tanks, associations, and other organizations usually exist for a reason. Learn more about the organization to identify potential biases by:
Are all biases bad? NO. But being aware of them helps contextualize the information presented.
After you have asked yourself some questions about the source and determined that it's worth your time to find and read that source, you can evaluate the material in the source as you read through it.
Read the preface--What does the author want to accomplish? Browse through the table of contents and the index.This will give you an overview of the source. Is your topic covered in enough depth to be helpful? If you don't find your topic discussed, try searching for some synonyms in the index.
Check for a list of references or other citations that look as if they will lead you to related material that would be good sources.
Determine the intended audience. Are you the intended audience? Consider the tone, style, level of information, and assumptions the author makes about the reader. Are they appropriate for your needs?
Try to determine if the content of the source is fact, opinion, or propaganda. If you think the source is offering facts, are the sources for those facts clearly indicated?
Do you think there's enough evidence offered? Is the coverage comprehensive? (As you learn more and more about your topic, you will notice that this gets easier as you become more of an expert.). Also consider the sources. Does the author use a good mix of primary and secondary sources for information? Be sure to check for accuracy.