There is no shortage of information available online, but how do you find the information that will be most useful?
Many sources of information contain inaccuracies and bias. How can you tell what to believe? Three of the Top Ten Research Skills for First Year University Students, as identified by the University of British Columbia, focus on evaluating sources.
To evaluate any source, you should know the differences between popular and academic/scholarly sources, and be able to apply the C.A.R.E.S criteria below.
POPULAR VS. SCHOLARLY SOURCES
- Video: from Hartness Library, Vermont Technical College, United States
- Text: from University of Victoria Libraries
Take the “CARES” tour and make research more efficient, effective and enjoyable!
C = Consider information needs
Have I considered all the possible sources of information available on my topic from the library learning commons? e.g.
- magazines and journals
- news media
- social media
- human resources
- subject guides
- project pathfinders
A = Authority of information sources
Is my research better-served by popular sources or academic sources? Primary sources or secondary sources? From the resources below can I locate each type of source?
- Magazines and journals
- Research Toolkit
- Subject Library
R = Reliability of information sources
- How reliable is each source?
- If the source is a website, is the author published?
- Does the author use facts and evidence to support the argument?
- Is a reference list included?
- Is the language objective rather than emotional?
- How current is the information? How important is currency for your topic?
E = Ease of use
Does each source have tools to help you locate and organize information?
- Locating information:
- Books: Tables of Contents and indexes
- Online sources: search limiters such as tools that sort by date, source type (popular or academic), publication type, subtopic, related topics
- Organizing information:
- Built-in application to save articles? (so you don’t need to copy into Microsoft Word for instance).
- Built-in annotation tools?
- Built-in citation tools?
S = Support for inquiry
- How can each source support my inquiry question?
- Can I rank the sources in terms of importance?
- Can I identify specific parts of each source that relate specifically to my inquiry question and sub-questions?
Starting with the sources on our school library learning commons site, especially the Research Toolkit, will help you find popular and scholarly sources — and provide you with helpful tools for organizing your information and citations. If you choose to use the worldwide web, ensure that you apply the C.A.R.E.S. criteria above.
Choosing Images & Multimedia
There are two considerations in choosing multimedia:
- Is the image real/authentic? Or has it been altered or photoshopped in any way? If so, could the intent be to deceive the viewer?
- Who created the image and is it licensed for me to use in my project? These details are referred to as attribution.
To satisfy both considerations, begin with the Creative Commons (CC) Search tool below; it is search tool that allow you to find images licensed for reuse or reuse with medication, and to cite them properly with correct attribution.
How to use the Creative Commons tool
- Enter a search term, then select licensed for reuse or reuse with modification.
- Always keep a record of the image’s URL; you will need to revisit the source of the multimedia you selected in order to retrieve information for citing it in your Reference List.