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University of Southern MaineLibraries

Research Skills Toolbox: Evaluating Sources Critically

Scholarly vs Popular Sources

Vanderbilt's Scholarly vs Popular tutorial helps explain the differences between the two types of sources.

U Mass Dartmouth's Popular Magazine and Scholarly Journals tutorial includes a self-assessment quiz.  Watch the video and then try their quiz!

Using Google

Watch Why Can't I Just Search Google? (URI)

If you use Google Scholar,  be sure you un-click Patents in your search.  Check out more Google Scholar Search Tips.

Best tip:  if you select Google Scholar from our Databases A-Z and then perform your search, you will find it easier to connect to any scholarly article that is marked Full-Text @USM.  

The C.R.A.A.P. Test (PDF)

Learning Objective

 After listening to the following interview with Charlie Bernacchio, Coordinator of Rehabilitation Counseling, continue with the material below.

The learning objectives of this unit are to address the evaluation of sources for academic purposes, and how to effectively employ critical thinking to accomplish this task. 

 Read the documents and complete any exercises. When finished, complete the quiz if required by your instructor. 

Video: Evaluating Sources Critically

How to Evaluate Books & Articles and an Exercise

Find both one book and one scholarly journal article on your topic.  Using the Colorado State University links on Evaluating Resources, analyze and assess the value of your selection using the questions provided, and send a one-page evaluation to your instructor of your two selections. 

How to Evaluate Websites and an Exercise

Given the size of the Internet, it is no surprise that search engines such as Google are popular places to begin any research. Beware: many of the resources that look promising as academic sources may be marketing a product, promoting a particular viewpoint, or serving as a site for other students' homework.  How can you use critical thinking skills to sort through the sheer number of results in a websearch?

Libraries have created tip sheets to help guide you through the process of scanning a website or webpage carefully. Review one or all of these guides:

University of Maryland  

UC Berkeley

Widener University

Now find a website and apply the questions from any one of the above tip sheets or use the CRAAP Test to your selection.  Does your web page meet the standards described? Send a one page analysis to your faculty instructor.

Used Car Exercise

Evaluating Sources Critically Quiz

When you have completed the quiz and attained a score of 70% or higher, you will be able to receive a certificate. You can print or download the quiz certificate. Your instructor will tell you whether to print out the quiz certificate and bring to class or to download the quiz certificate, save the file, and send as an attachment to an email or upload in Blackboard.