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Evaluating Information Resources


Locating information is only part of the research process. Deciding which information resources to use is also necessary. 

Resource evaluation involves a researcher looking objectively at a potential source of information and making a reasonable and well-informed decision about its credibility and accuracy before determining whether or not it is an appropriate resources for a paper or project.

You will likely find multiple resources for any topic and they may come from a variety of places such as a subscription database, a journal, a book, a website, etc. Not all resources will be equally suitable for use in an academic work.

As a researcher, you will be the one to determine what is and is not a valid source of information during the research process.

There are many factors to consider when evaluating a resource:

  • What are the author's credentials?
  • How current is the information?
  • Is there potential bias or agenda on the part of the author(s)?
  • Can I verify the claims made in the resource?
  • Was the resource subjected to peer review prior to publication?

These are just a few of the questions you may want to ask yourself before you decide to use a resource.

If you are in doubt, ask library staff or your professor to help you evaluate the resource. In some cases, it may be best to choose an alternate resource.

Start Your Search in the Saybrook Library

The Saybrook Library provides over 330 databases to use for your research. Some databases are multidisciplinary and cover a wide variety of topics while others are subject- or discipline-specific. These databases contain many different types of information from a variety of sources such as journals, eBooks, streaming videos, and more. The A-Z Database List is a directory of all the databases we have and the place to go to search within an individual database. To search a great majority of our databases simultaneously, you can use our OneSearch search engine.

Many students like to start at Google Search or Google Scholar. While it is true that you can find good information resources here, your searching likely will be more productive in our databases because your odds of finding credible and authoritative resources will be higher. Again, regardless of how you find an information resource, whether in a database, Google Scholar, or the web, you will still need to vet it for its quality and relevance to your research.