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EVALUATING RESOURCES GUIDE: EVALUATING RESOURCES

Guidelines and tips for evaluating research

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WIKIPEDIA

​The DO's & DON'T'S of Wikipedia use for academic sources:

  • DO NOT, in most cases, use a Wikipedia article as an actual source and cite it on your citations page.
  • DO use Wikipedia for finding important names and dates on your topic,
  • DO use Wikipedia to find keywords or generate terms that you can use to search other sources with,
  • DO use Wikipedia to find background information on a subject,
  • DO scroll down to the reference section of a Wikipedia article to link to the original sources there, and maybe use THOSE for your research.

Straight from the horse's mouth: HERE is what Wikipedia says about using Wikipedia as an academic source.

URL domaine names and what they mean

.com
Commercial site. The information provided by commercial interests is generally going to shed a positive light on the product it promotes. While this information might not necessarily be false, you might be getting only part of the picture. Remember, there's a monetary incentive behind every commercial site in providing you with information, whether it is for good public relations or to sell you a product outright.

.edu
Educational institution. Sites using this domain name are schools ranging from kindergarten to higher education. If you take a look at your school's URL you'll notice that it ends with the domain .edu. Information from sites within this domain must be examined very carefully. If it is from a department or research center at a educational institution, it can generally be taken as credible. However, students' personal Web sites are not usually monitored by the school even though they are on the school's server and use the .edu domain.

.gov
Government. If you come across a site with this domain, then you're viewing a federal government site. All branches of the United States federal government use this domain. Information such as Census statistics, Congressional hearings, and Supreme Court rulings would be included in sites with this domain. The information is considered to be from a credible source.

.org
Traditionally a non-profit organization. Organizations such as the American Red Cross or PBS (Public Broadcasting System) use this domain suffix. Generally, the information in these types of sites is credible and unbiased, but there are examples of organizations that strongly advocate specific points of view over others, such as the National Right to Life Committee and Planned Parenthood. You probably want to give this domain a closer scrutiny these days. Some commercial interests might be the ultimate sponsors of a site with this suffix.

.mil
Military. This domain suffix is used by the various branches of the Armed Forces of the United States.

.net
Network. You might find any kind of site under this domain suffix. It acts as a catch-all for sites that don't fit into any of the preceding domain suffixes. Information from these sites should be given careful scrutiny.

Country domain suffixes
.au Australia
.in India
.br Brazil
.it Italy
.ca Canada
.mx Mexico
.fr France
.tw Taiwan
.il Israel
.uk United Kingdom
 

Information from The Online Library Learning Center (http://www.usg.edu/galileo/skills/unit07/internet07_08.phtml)

 

GOOGLE SEARCH TIPS

  • Along with your search terms in Google, try refining with these terms:

site:           To search only one website or domain > example: "smartphones site:.gov" (for government websites pertaining to smartphones)

related:      List web pages that are similar or related to a URL > example: "related: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/" (find websites related to the Pew Research Center website search results)

link:           Find other pages that point to a specific URL > example: " link: www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/half-all-teenagers-are-addicted-their-smartphones-survey-finds-n566811" (find other results that are linked to the nbc news link)

  • Also try to use the Google help tools to refine your search, (make it do the work for you):

So a Google search on 'teenagers and smartphones' using the "Search tools" options to narrow down by dates within the past year, looks like this...

       

KEYWORDS

What Keywords you use will make difference in your search results.  Watch this short clip to help you learn how to find good ones.

TED TALKS on Related Subjects

EVALUATE SOURCES - EASY CHECKLIST

Whatever sources you choose, use this checklist to help establish the credibility of the source. 

Remember: 

  • With some sources, like databases, some of the work has already been done for you because they have already gone through a vetting process.
     
  • With other sources, like the Internet, you have to use all of your tools to help determine if the source you find is a good one.

Before you commit to a source, some general questions to ask are:

  1. WHO (Authority)Who is/are the authority behind the work? What makes them an expert on the subject? 
  2. WHEN (Currency)When was the source created? Has the information been updated or changed? How much time was spent creating the information? Are the resources used listed, linked to, or given credit?
  3. WHY (Bias/P.O.V)What is the purpose of the work? Why was it created? Who is the intended audience? Is there an obvious bias or perspective on the content of the work? But also...why choose this information over something else?

 

EVALUATE SOURCES - A DIFFERENT CHECKLIST - The CRAAP TEST

You can apply this checklist when you need a more thorough way to establish credibility.  

To find some of this information, try scanning the webpage to find "About" or "About us", or try looking at the corners or very bottom of the page.

 C - Currency: 

  • Has the resource been updated recently?
  • Are there any dates anywhere on the page at all that help you decide when the information was created?
  • Are the links still working?

R - Relevance

  • Is the information relevant to your needs?
  • Can you tell who the audience is? or who the information might be written for?
  • Do you understand the language and the content on the page?

A - Authority

  • Who is the author/publisher/sponsor of the information?
  • What are the credentials or mission of the producer of the information?
  • Can you find an "About" or address and contact information for the page?
  • Does the url tell you anything about the source?

A - Accuracy

  • Where does the information come from? 
  • Is the information supported by evidence, other research, or statistics?
  • Are there grammatical or other obvious errors on the page?
  • Has the information been reviewed or examined by other experts?
  • Can you verify the information found on this page anywhere else?

P - Point of view / Bias

  • Is there strong language or opinion-based language used?
  • Is it clear what the intention of the page is? Why was it written?
  • What institution or organization supports the page? Is there an obvious funding source?
  • Is the point of view at least somewhat objective or impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

HERE is a one page summary to print out for ready reference

TYPES OF INFORMATION

The Information Cycle

LINKS

CRAAP TEST TUTORIAL

Fake News Guide

Mission

The William C. Bonaudi
Library provides 
quiet
study space,
a large and growing
collection of books 

multiple online resources,
and other library services. 

We are committed to meeting
the needs of
BBCC's students,
staff, faculty, and those 

living within the
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ailing 
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Bonaudi Library, 
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Moses Lake, WA 98837


 

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Librarian: 
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Olshausen

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Cataloging, Interlibrary Loan
Teresa Sweeney

 

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