Now take some time to practice evaluating sources.
Note: A downloadable RTF file of this worksheet is included in the left sidebar of this page.
Worksheet: Going Through the Resource Evaluation Process
For this activity, select a research topic about something that would be useful to you or use one that you have been assigned. Follow the process outlined in this module to research your topic. Record your findings and observations as you go.
Start with a preliminary evaluation of background information on your topic. Look for a variety of types of materials from a variety of kinds of resources. Include journal articles, Web sites, books, papers, news articles, etc. in your review. Try several different search engines on the Web, then refine your search using the one that gives you the best results. On the attached worksheet, record information for three of the sources you find.
Choose three sources from the ones you found and evaluate them by answering the questions found in the section of this module called, "The Preliminary Evaluation Process." There may be questions that you don't have enough information to answer yet - just answer the questions you are able to. Remember to keep track of the resources you evaluate, including information for citations - you might need it later when you actually write your paper.
Next refine your research by narrowing down your search from the information you found in your background search. You might find that you need to change your focus depending on the number and kinds of resources you find. You can also narrow your focus by searching just the resources that are most likely to provide information relevant to your topic. To maintain the credibility of your research, you should still try to use information from a variety of publication types and authors as well as those with opposing or contradictory points of view.
As you continue to narrow down and evaluate the resources you find, continue answer the questions about three of your sources from the "Evaluation Refined" section of this tutorial for print materials or the "Questions to Ask About Web Pages" for Internet materials.
Using the notes you made as you answered the evaluation questions, evaluate the quality of the information in each source. Review the arguments from each resource. Then, decide which of the resources you would classify as the most reliable and valuable and why.
Source Evaluation Worksheet
My Research Agenda, Questions, or Objectives:
General Evaluation of Background Information
Full citation in appropriate bibliographic reference style (be sure to use the style your instructor has assigned):
My comments on:
My Library searching activities (subjects/keywords used, Boolean parameters) were:
My Web searching activities (search engines used, Boolean parameters, "wrong turns") were: