Evaluating Example

Let's go back to our example with John. Search_Example_John John thinks he has found a couple of sources. Below are two sources he found. Let’s pull out the important citation information and then think about how John's should evaluate these source before he uses them in his paper.


Example Source #1

Step 1: Find Citation Information



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Step 2: Read the Description or Abstract

Title: The New Science of SIBLINGS Description: This article focuses on a wealth of new studies into sibling dynamics from which research scientists are gaining insights into how personality develops. Sibling research, which has been previously limited to discussions of birth order, offers information about how siblings steer away or toward risky behaviors, how they educate one another, compete, and form a protective bond. Publication Title: Time

Step 3: Evaluate

John needs to apply the evaluation criteria (timeliness, authority, perspective/intent) to this source. Consider the following questions: Timeliness: When was this source written? Does the publication date effect your decision to use it in an assignment or paper? Perspective/intent: Why was this source written? What perspective does the author take? Authority: Is the author an expert? Why? Why Not?

Step 4: Are You Going to Use It?

Q: Based on what you know of the source, should John use this in his paper? A: Depending on his assignment and course, yes, this source can be used in a paper. It's from TIME magazine, so it isn't a scholarly or peer-reviewed article, but it is an in-depth article. From the abstract it says the article focuses on "new studies" and "research" which are clues it will be useful for academic research. TIP: Keep in mind, as you take more classes, your evaluation criteria will change. For example, this article probably isn't appropriate for a paper in an upper-level Psychology course.

Example Source #2

Step 1: Find Citation Information



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Step 2: Read the Description or Abstract

Title: Personality and birth order in large families. Description: The influence of birth order on the personality traits of siblings belonging to large families (?6 siblings) was investigated using 361 sibling members (190 females, 171 males, mean age 32±9.14) belonging to 42 large families. The personality traits of Psychoticism, Extraversion and Neuroticism were quantified for each participant... Publication Title: Personality & Individual Differences

Step 3: Evaluate

John needs to apply the evaluation criteria (timeliness, authority, perspective/intent) to this source. Consider the following questions: Timeliness: When was this source written? Does the publication date effect your decision to use it in an assignment or paper? Perspective/intent: Why was this source written? What perspective does the author take? Authority: Is the author an expert? Why? Why Not?

Step 4: Are You Going to Use It?

Q: Based on what you know of the source, should John use this in his paper? A: This article is scholarly and very suitable for academic research, so, yes, John could use this in his paper. But is it on his topic? This article is very specific to large families, so it might not be useful. Even if you find articles that could be part of your paper, it is important to think about if they should be used and how you will use them to support your thoughts or arguments in your paper. Often students try to cram in a source simply because they found it. Evaluation is about selecting and removing sources as you write and edit your paper.

Next Steps

  1. Take the QUIZ.
  2. Have questions? Meet with a Librarian and/or Peer Research Consultant to get one-on-one help on your topic. Check out our Peer Research Consultant drop-in hours: http://www.lib.umn.edu/services/prc


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