There are multiple ways to evaluate sources, but one that we recommend is the RADAR method.
This stands for:
These five areas can help you evaluate the quality and usefulness of your sources.
For more information, check out the following link:
Works that are published by staff or freelance writers who do not have to have their work peer reviewed before publication.
These can be useful for community perspectives or popular opinion as examples in a paper, though they should be supported by more scholarly evidence.
Works that have gone through a more detailed approval process for publication – usually peer review for articles or through an editor at a University Press.
Because they have gone through editors and/or peer review, these tend to be less likely to contain mistakes and are written by experts in the field for others researching in the same field.
When you begin your research, you may find that you're not getting a lot of "scholarly," or peer-reviewed sources (also known as academic articles). This might be because your topic is too recent! The Information Cycle shows the timeline for when things are published related to an event. If you're not finding as many scholarly articles and books, consider broadening your topic a bit.
Note for the sciences: In the sciences, research studies often go to a scholarly journal first and then to the news media (if they're published in the news.)
Library Jargon Dictionary
|Term||Definition||Why use this?|
|Abstract||A short summary of an article||
Helps you understand what the article is about without having to read the whole thing and helps you eliminate articles that aren't relevant to your research
|Boolean operators||Basic terms you put between search terms to indicate relationship between terms (AND, OR, NOT)||Help narrow or broaden your search|
|Call number||The number on the spine of the book that helps librarians organize books on the shelves||This is how you find books on the shelves - they're organized by Library of Congress call numbers|
|Database||An online resource where you find journal articles, newspaper articles, magazine articles, and more||These can help you find articles and other online resources for your research|
|Journal||A collection of articles written by scholars or experts in their fields||These are where you find articles, whether they're online journals or print journals. These articles tend to be narrow in scope.|
|Magazine||A collection of articles generally written by staff or freelance writers and aimed at the general public||These are often considered "popular" and not "scholarly"|
|Peer Reviewed||A piece of writing that has been reviewed by other experts in the field who have approved it for publication||This is what professors usually mean when they want you to use "scholarly" resources|
|Permalink||A link that will always take you back to the article you've found||Make sure that you look for these. In library databases, the URL at the top of the webpage tends to change, so a permalink may be the only way to get back to the article you found if you didn't save a PDF copy|
|Refereed||(same as Peer Reviewed)|
|Stacks||Where the books are located||When you go to the stacks to find a book, you can look around the book to find others that might be useful to your research (also known as "shelf reading")|
Google Scholar allows you to search for many different resources on the web, including books and articles.
Pro Tip: You can make Google Scholar link to the library content that is available free.
NOTE FOR VIDEO VIEWERS: The name of our linking has changed since I made the video.
The link is now "Mansfield University - Full Text - Full Text @ MU".
Accessing Articles: Some of the articles may be available online from the library, but you need to set up Google Scholar to know that you are associated with Mansfield University. Here's how:
Things not available online: If there is something you want that isn't available online, request it through ILLiad.