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General Resource Evaluation

This guide helps you learn how to evaluate all types of resources to know whether or not they would be good to use in your research.

What is Resource Evaluation?

The practice of resource evaluation involves a researcher taking an objective look at a potential source of information and making a reasoned and well-informed decision about its credibility and accuracy before determining whether or not it is an appropriate resource for a particular paper or project.

Researchers are likely to find multiple resources for nearly any topic, but not all resources will be equally suitable for use in an academic work.

The researcher is generally left to make the determination of what is and is not a valid source of information during the research process. Resource evaluation is important because the quality of any subsequent work will often be dependent on the quality of the source materials used.

There are many factors you want to consider when evaluating a resource.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the credentials of the author?
  • How current is the information that is being provided?
  • Is there evidence of any bias or agenda on the part of the author(s)?
  • Is it possible to verify any claims made by the author(s)?
  • How easily can any source materials listed by the author(s) be verified?
  • Was the resource subjected to peer review prior to publication?

The list above is not meant to be exhaustive, and many resources will present other factors that will need to be considered.

Library staff can assist with the evaluation of a resource, but it is ultimately up to the researcher to decide what is or is not an appropriate resource.

As a general rule, if you have any doubts about whether a resource is suitable for a paper or project, choose an alternate source.

Start Searching Here

The HJF Library provides a ton of excellent databases to use for your research. Some databases cover the vast majority of the topics you can think of while others are very specific to the field or discipline in which they are intended for. You may wonder why choose a database over using Google Search or Google Scholar. Though those are very viable options for researchers, we like to describe it as using a chainsaw when you need a scalpel. Contrary to popular belief, Google Search does not search everything, in fact, a significant portion of what Google cannot search are those things found in library databases due to publisher restrictions. Plus, by using a database you can go to a field specific database, such as education or nursing, and not have to sift through unrelated results. Databases also offer a number of other features that Google does not, such as subject terms, indexes, and more.

Here is a short list of some of the general databases the HJF provides to get you started. 

 See a Complete List of the Databases