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Bethel Libraries

BIO399/ENS399: Evaluating

Picking the Best Resources

Now that you have (hopefully) found many resources on your topic, it is time to pick the best ones for your research paper/project.

This page will help you to focus in on the types of sources (academic, scholarly, peer-reviewed, refereed) that instructors commonly require for research papers and projects.

 

Know Your Research Terms

Scholarly Resources: Each fact or opinion is documented (author provides a list of references with the title, author, and page number of the resource used). 

Peer-reviewed Resources
: Selected and approved by a panel of experts. This term usually refers to journal articles. Many online databases allow you to limit your searches to peer reviewed/refereed articles.

Scholarly Journals

Ask the following questions to find whether an article is a quality scholarly resource:

Journal vs. Trade Publication / Magazine

What sort of publication is it?  If you aren't sure how to tell, see the chart below:

  Scholarly Journals Popular Journals Trade Journals
Purpose Informs and reports on original research done by scholars and experts in the field. Entertains and informs a general audience without providing in-depth analysis. Reports on industry trends and new products or techniques useful to people in a trade or business.
Authors Articles are written by subject specialists and experts in the field. Articles are written by journalists, freelance writers, or an editorial staff. Articles are written by specialists in a certain field or industry.
Audience Intended for a limited audience - researchers, scholars, and experts. Intended for a broad segment of the population, appealing to non-specialists. Intended for practititioners in a particular profession, business, or industry.

Author

- Is the author a recognized expert on the article's topic?

- Is the author affiliated with a college or university?

- Does the author have a master's or doctoral degree in a relevant discipline?

- Is the author giving a biased interpretation of the facts?


Article

- Is the article in a peer-reviewed journal?

TIP-EBSCO databases, including the EBSCO Greenfile, will list whether a journal is peer reviewed. Simply go to the article's full citation page and click on the journal's name. Peer Reviewed: Yes should appear at the bottom of the next page.

Clicking on journal title

- Does the article have a list of references / bibliography?

- How long is the article? (Longer is usually better.)

- Does the article include primary research in the form of interviews, surveys, or data from a research study?

- Is information accurate and current?

 

Evaluating Websites

What makes a good website?

Try this Website Evaluation Guide to discover ways to evaluate web sources.

HINT--Remember that About Us links on a site provide valuable information about the person or organization responsible for the website and its content.

Wikipedia

This free online encyclopedia allows users to view, edit, or create entire articles.

You should check with your professor before using Wikipedia information as a credible source.

Seven Things You Should Know about Wikipedia