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Writing and Thinking Guide: Spring 2021 Library Session

Writing & Thinking Library Session Learning Outcomes

  • You will be able to select keywords in order to perform effective searches. 
  • You will differentiate a scholarly article from other information formats.
  • You can identify types of authority, such as subject expertise, societal position, or special experiences
  • You will be able to recognize the limitations of citation generators and identify citation guideline resources such as Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Library Session Assignment

Here's your assignment before your class meets with a librarian:

  1. Read the three sources, noting the differences between them based on what you have learned from this module on evaluating sources.  Determine which source is considered a scholarly source and which is a non-scholarly source.

See you then!

Tips to evaluating a scholarly/peer reviewed work

1.  Authors

  • They are experts in the field 
  • Their credentials are listed in the work 

2.  Audience

  • Scholarly works are written using the specialized terminology related to the field of study for experts in the field and researchers of the topic

3.  References

  • Authors use previous research in their works and cite their research with in-text citations and at the end of the work

4.  Summary of content

  • Scholarly articles contain an abstract at the beginning of the article to summarize the work
  • Scholarly books will contain a table of contents to give the reader an idea of what is included in the work

5.  Graphics

  • Tend to contain reliable images, graphs, charts and tables

6.  Publications

  • Scholarly articles may go through an editorial process known as "peer review" to be considered for publication in a scholarly publication or journal.
  • Scholarly books are typically published by university presses such as Oxford Press and Cambridge Press to name a few.

Tips to choosing and using keywords

Tips to choosing and using keywords for a database search:

  • Keywords should represent the most important concepts in your topic.
  • Sometimes you must learn new vocabulary related to your topic.
  • Try multiple variants or synonyms of your keywords.
  • If you find a worthy source for your topic, look for additional keywords in the title, abstract, and subject headings.

Tips to reading and determining if a scholarly article is relevant for your research.

You can determine if a scholarly article is relevant to your research without reading the entire article just by reviewing the following:

  • Abstract or introduction that summarizes the work
  • Literature review providing other work to support the research for the article and any gaps in the research to be further explored 
  • Conclusion or discussion
  • References at the end of the article
  • Scholarly works that are studies on a topic will include the methodology used to conduct the study.

Tips to evaluating all sources

1. Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

2. Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

3. Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

4. Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

5. Objective: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?