Step 4: Evaluate The Information

Once you have collected information on your topic, you will need to evaluate the content, focus and source of the resources you have selected. You also need to look at the material you have collected and determine if you have enough resources – or too many. Here are some guidelines to use when evaluating information.

Articles from journals can be divided into two general categories – popular and scholarly. It is important to have a clear idea of the difference between the two. Click here for more information on evaluating popular and scholarly articles.

In addition to print resources, you may also have collected information from the web. Material retrieved from websites should receive extra scrutiny. Click here for information on how to critically evaluate a website.

After evaluating the sources, compare the information you have collected against what you need to complete your research.

Do you need more resources?

  • Reframe your question so that it is not as narrow in focus.
  • Re-examine the concepts you used in your search — enter broader terms if necessary.
  • Follow up on the references used in articles and book chapters.
  • Do an author search to find more articles written by that person.
  • Expand your use of databases to cover related disciplines.

Do you have too much information?

  • You may need to narrow the focus of your research.
  • Use the resources that best fit the criteria for good scholarship.

Ask for help!!! Sometimes your topic is fine, but the way that you entered the terms or the databases you selected can result in unsatisfactory results.

Once you have collected most of the information for your research you are ready to begin writing. See Step 5 for tips on writing and presenting your findings.

Books in the Harris Library

Girden, E. R., & Kabacoff, R. I. (2011). Evaluating research articles from start to finish (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.