Information research skills: getting started: Is it useful?

First impressions

Is the resource you have found about the right thing and does it use language you can understand?

A quick way of checking that the journal article or book you have found is suitable is to look at the summary:

  • For a book you check the blurb.  This is usually on the back cover or just inside the front of the book
  • For a journal you check the abstract. This is a one or two paragraph summary at the beginning of the article

Think about it - if you don't understand the abstract, you probably won't understand the article!

Preview the articles in the catalogue

Do you know that you can preview the article or book when you click on the full record link in the catalogue?

 

Select the title to see more information about the article

 
Read the abstract to see if the publication is suitable  

You be the judge: learn to evaluate

Passing the CRAAP test

You will find a range of material which need to be assessed to see if it is actually useful to include.  The following criteria will help you make decisions about the material that you are trying to assess.

The CRAAP Test was developed by the Meriam Library at California State University to help you evaluate the information you find. This information has been adapted from the Evaluating Information - Applying the CRAAP Test by California State University 

 

 

The timeliness of the information

Ask yourself these questions:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Is the source current or out-of-date for the subject or topic?
  • Has the source been revised, updated, or expanded in a subsequent edition?
  • (If you are using the web:) Are the links to other sources functional?

 

 

How importance is this information to your needsHoria Varlan 2008, 'Question Mark', CC Licence: BY 2.0, Image Source: Flickr

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • How does the source work with other resources you are using?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level? (ie not too elementary or advanced for your needs)
  • Is the content appropriate for your research topic or assignment?
  • Who is the author/ publisher/ source/ sponsor of the information source?

 

 

The source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials?Rickvanderzwet 2006, 'Mortarboard', CC Licence: CC0 1.0, Image Source: Open Clip Art Library
  • What is the author's reputation among his/her peers?
  • Does the resource have a reputable organisation or expert behind it?
  • Is the author associated with an educational institution or well known organisation?
  • Is there contact information for author/ publisher/ sponsor?

 

 

The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the contentScott_Kirkwood 2009, 'Scales', CC Licence: CC0 1.0, Image Source: Open Clip Art Library

  • Where does the information come from and is it supported by evidence??
  • Does it have a reference list?
  • Can you verify any of the information?
  • Has the author used good grammar? Are there spelling or typographical errors?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?

 

 

The reason the information existsJ_Alves 2010, 'Target', CC Licence: CC0 1.0, Image Source: Open Clip Art Library

  • What is the purpose of the information? Why was it written?
  • Does the author exhibit a particular bias? (Political, ideological, cultural, religious or personal)
  • Is the viewpoint of the author's affiliation/ sponsors reflected in the message or content?
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