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Research Process: Evaluating Resources
Tips from topic selection to evaluating sources to aid in the research process
When thinking about a source and whether or not we plan on using it in our research, we want to take a moment to critically evaluate it. This process can be done before we even read/listen/engage with the source by asking ourselves the following questions.
The SIFT method is one way to evaluate sources, especially ones from newsfeeds and other online resources.
S = Stop
I = Investigate the source
F = Find better coverage
T = Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context.
"One of the most basic concepts in doing good research is evaluating the information you plan to use. ...This tutorial, through a series of videos, will provide a framework for thinking critically about all the information you encounter..."
Here is a webcast from the University of Arkansas Libraries, explaining the differences between magazines and scholarly journals.
Media Bias Chart
Primary and Secondary sources
A primary source is an original document containing firsthand information about a topic. Common examples of a primary source are diaries, interviews, letters, photographs and newspaper articles written at the time of the event.
A secondary source contains commentary on or discussion about a primary source. The most important feature of secondary sources is that they offer an interpretation of information gathered from primary sources. Common examples of a secondary source are biographies, dissertations, journal articles, monographs, an encyclopedia entry and textbooks.
For example: When writing about a philosophical treatise you would want to read the original text (Primary Document), then read what experts in field have written about it (Secondary Documents) and develop your own analysis.
Prior to publishing a book or article that is considered scholarly, the research needs to be reviewed by one or more experts in the field. They may recommend it be published, give suggestions to strengthen the piece, or recommend that it not be published. You can limit your search to peer reviewed journals by checking the filter box in the library catalog and most databases.
Check out this great video from Steely Library NKU:
According to the 2014 Journal Citation Reports Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2014). Its Impact Factor is 14.547. Full-text content on the publisher's site is accessible from January, 2010 to present.
The impact factor of a journal is calculated by dividing the number of citations in a calendar year to the source items published in that journal during the previous two years. It is an independent measure calculated by Thomson Reuters.
For information on how to find an article's impact factor, check out this video: