Library Home Search OCtopus for Resources Research & Course Guides About the Library Help from the Library Kelowna Library Information Penticton Library Information Salmon Arm Library Information Vernon Library Information Library Home
 

BSN Year One & Two Nursing: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Information

The Internet and the Library make it is easy to find information, but it is more difficult to identify sources you can rely on. Evaluate your sources carefully to ensure you've selected material that is trustworthy and appropriate for your assignnment. Use this checklist to help you evaluate your sources:

 

Scholarly Academic Publication

Popular Publications

Author

Written by an expert in the field of study (an academic or trained specialist) Written by those without expertise in the field (a member of the public or journalist) or no author is stated 

Date

Date of publication is provided Popular publications, especially WWW publications, often do not give a date of publication

Publisher

Colleges/Universities, professional associations, scholarly publishers + research institutes    Commercial for-profit publishers or members of the public

Purpose

To report on experiments, theories, case studies + other research    To sell advertised products, inform, promote a point of view or entertain

Editing

Peer review by experts in the field Review by a generalist (a magazine editor) or no review

Documentation

Sources used in the author's research are cited in a reference list or footnotes    Sources are rarely cited or are inaccurate

Other

Accurate spelling + grammar, few advertisements, logical + well written

Spelling + grammar errors may occur, many advertisements, poor or variable writing quality

(Modified, original source UBC Library)

For more information:

Authority

  • Who is the author and/or owner of the site?
  • Does the author have authority and expertise in the area?
  • What is the link's domain, .edu, .gov, or .com?
  • Are references or related links available?

Accuracy

  • Can you verify the information on the site elsewhere?
  • Is there a list of sources or references?
  • Has accuracy been proven through a review process?

Purpose

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it fact, opinion, selling something?
  • Is there advertising on the site, or is something being sold?

Currency

  • When was the site last updated? Is a copyright date available? 
  • Do the links work?
  • Is the information up to date for your research?

Relevance

  • Is there enough coverage of the topic?  
  • Does the information support the research you have already found?
  • Are links provided to find more information?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources?

Wikipedia etc.

Wikipedia can be great to find background information! 
 Wikipedia has an absence of accountability, people do not need to verify the truthfulness of the information 

"You see, any user can change any entry, and if enough other users agree with them, it becomes true."
Comedian Stephen Colbert 

 

Examples

Internet

Databases

 Search engines, such as Google, websites Academic Search Premier, PsycINFO

Access 

 Any computer with Internet connection On-campus or off-campus with login

Cost

 Free Free to students, but Library pays subscription & licensing fees

Content by

 Anyone Scholars, professionals, experts, journalists

Content

 Anything and everything, pictures, personal opinions, blogs, articles, etc. Biased or often misleading to change visitors' opinion of site or organization. Full-text articles from reputable publications, often peer reviewed content. Full-text books and book chapters. References or links for related information. 

Appearance

 Personal pages, corporate pages, pages that look reliable but have no affiliation with reputable source, visually appealing pages to distract from content.  Little or no advertising, range of limiters available. Affiliated with reputable source, organization, individual or company. Contact information available. Often uses .org or .gov domains.

Publication

 Anytime by anyone, irregular schedule.

Typically published daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. Journal/periodical issues usually identified by volume and/or issue number.

Books and DVDs which are not located at your Okanagan College campus library may be requested in the Library's catalogue

Resource Type

Example

Characteristics

When would I use?

Find & Locate

Reference Sources

Encyclopedia

 

Brief factual articles on many subjects, divided into articles or entries, which are usually accessed alphabetically by article name.
Two types: general and subject.
General - overviews on a wide variety of topics.
Subject - entries focusing on one field of study.

Authors: Scholars in the field, academics or researchers.

Sources: always cited with many references and/or footnotes

Length: Long and in-depth 

Find background information or an overview of a topic

Answer quick, factual questions, locate background information, find key ideas, important dates or concepts

Find additional sources within bibliographies or footnotes

Find: Library catalogue

Find: OCtopus

Find: E-Resource Listing

Locate: Reference section

Locate: Online

Reference Sources

Dictionary
  • A collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically, with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations, and other information.
Confirm spelling
Confirm meaning of a word
Find the definition of a word

Books (& E-Books)

Book (fiction & non-fiction)

Authors: Scholarly and experts in the field.subject

Sources: Cited, many footnotes or references

Long, in-depth

Often published by university presses

Need background information or overview of a topic

Need extensive or in-depth information on a topic

Put your topic in context with other important issues

Find historical information

Find summaries of research

Find additional sources within bibliographies or footnotes

Find: Library catalogue

Find: OCtopus

Locate: Library "stacks" (shelves)

Locate: Online

Locate: Reserves (At circulation desk)

 

Edited Books

Textbook, anthology

All characteristics of a book plus:

May have multiple authors, as well as editor(s)

Magazines

Time, Newsweek, Chatelaine, Shape, GQ

Articles on topics of popular interest and current events,  written by journalists and are for the general public.

Authors: usually staff writers or journalists, often a generalist.

Sources: rarely cited, original sources may be obscure.

Length: Brief, unless a feature

Appearance: glossy, have graphics and full page advertisements even online.

Looking for up-to-date information on current events

find information or opinions about popular culture

Find up-to-date information about current events

Find general articles written for people who are not necessarily specialists in the topic area

Commentaries, expert or popular opinions

Find: Library databases

Find: Library catalogue

Find: E-journal listing

Find: OCtopus

Locate: Print in library

Locate: Online

 

 

 

Journals

Journal of Canadian History

 

Often peer-reviewed, an editorial board reviews articles to decide whether they should be published.

May cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research.

Authors:  written by scholars in an academic or professional field. 

Sources: always cited with many references and/or footnotes

Length: long with sections such as abstract, literature review, methodology, results and conclusion.

Appearance: similar to books, usually don't have color and never ads, even in online versions.

Need scholarly or peer reviewed information on a topic

find additional sources within bibliographies or footnotes

when doing scholarly research

To find out what has been studied on your topic

 find bibliographies that point to other relevant research

Peer Review

peer reviewed journal is a special type of publication. Before articles are published within these types of journals, they are sent by the editors of the journal to other scholars in the field ("peers"), often anonymously, to get feedback on the quality of the scholarship, review research methods, as well as relevance or importance to the field. The article may be accepted, often with revisions suggested, or rejected for publication.  

Considered the most respected, researchers wish to have their works published in them. Many often have low acceptance rates. 
 

Web Sites

Okanagan College Website    

Find: Search engine

Find: Links

Find": E-Resources listing

Locate: Online

Media (YouTube video, DVD)

YouTube video, video clip from website, DVD played in class    

Find: Library catalogue

Find: OCtopus

Locate: In library

Locate: Online (Streaming)

Newspapers

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Capital News

Articles published each day about current events.

Good source for local information.

Authors: Staff writers, guest writers, journalists

Sources: Rarely cited, few references

Articles: Usually brief, longer feature articles

Made of newsprint or online format

Up-to-date information on current events

Find current information about international, national and local events

Find editorials, commentaries, expert or popular opinions

Find: Library catalogue

Find: OCtopus

Find: Databases

Find: E-Journal listing

Locate: Online

Locate: On display

Locate: Microfiche/microfilm

Conference Proceeding

Proceedings of the 28th Annual NASIG Conference

Collection of papers on cutting-edge research presented by researchers in a particular field of study.

Some published as individual book; some may be published as an annual periodical; some may not be published at all but may only be available as an abstract. 

Authors: usually scholars in the field, academics or researchers.

Sources: almost always cited with references and/or footnotes

Length: long and often have sections such as abstract, literature review, methodology, results, and conclusion.

Appearance: no color, no ads even in online versions, and some have graphs and tables.

New research ideas, emerging trends, or to gain an historical perspective on research

identify leading researchers and institutions in various fields of study

historical insight into various scientific and technological approaches to problems back in time

 

Find: OCtopus

Find: Databases

Locate: Online

Locate: ILL

Technical Report

 

Scientific and technical information. Most commonly generated by  government agencies,  corporations, and universities.

Authors: Scholars or scientists, engineers, government contractors, or technical personnel.

Sources: always cited with references and/or footnotes

Length: Long and often have sections such as abstract and appendixes. Often includes tables, images and charts.

Appearance: No ads, and only sometimes have color graphics.

New research ideas, emerging trends, or to gain an historical perspective on research

discover new developments or findings from science and technical research before its publication in journals

see how the research in specific topic areas was approached from an historical perspective

Find: OCtopus

Find: Databases

Find: Search engine

Locate: Online

Trade Journals

Advertising Age, Business in Vancouver

Industry-specific news and advertising targeted at those who work in a particular profession or trade

Authors: Staff writers or journalists, often with expertise in subject area.

Sources: Rarely cited.

Length: Brief, unless feature

Appearance: glossy, have graphics and advertisements, many are large format or online

Current news, products, and trends within a specific trade or industry or practical information from practitioners

Find practical information within a field from practitioners in that industry

Find: OCtopus

Find: Databases

Find: E-journal listing

Find: Library catalogue

Locate: Online

Locate: In print

Primary Sources Examples

In the sciences, primary sources, or "primary literature" are sources which report the results of original research.

Generally in research journals; report research done by the authors.

Usually only include references to other primary sources.

Cover very focused and specialized topics.

Primary source journal articles (and sometimes conference papers/proceedings) are usually peer-reviewed or refereed ie. independent experts in the field review, or "referee" the manuscript before publication to check the accuracy and validity of its claims.

 

In the sciences: typically journal articles or conference papers which describe a new theory or the results of an experiment or study.

Also: Technical reports; dissertations and theses; patents; numerical data & statistics; samples, field notes and specimens; lab notes & journal entries.

 

Secondary Sources Examples

In the sciences, sources which review the existing literature are "secondary sources."

Generally include a large bibliography; usually the bibliographic references are primary sources.

Topic coverage is more focused than tertiary sources, but less focused than primary.

In the sciences: "review articles" in journals, research or graduate level books, specialised scientific encyclopedia entries, and scientific news reports.

Tertiary Sources Examples

Synthesize and report on secondary sources for general readers.

Sparse references, generally secondary sources.

General and very broad topic coverage

Undergraduate or course textbooks, encyclopedia articles, Wikipedia

 

 

Loading

Parts of a Research Article

Research articles tend to have 6 or 7 parts, each part is normally labeled.

 

Abstract This first part of the article, normally at the top and set apart from the rest of the article. The abstract describes what the article is about. 
Introduction The first part of the actual text, it explains why the researchers selected the topic to study and why it is important.
Literature Review  In this section the authors discuss research that is important to their study, this section can be long or short. Sometimes the introduction and literature review sections are combined.
Methods/ Data Analysis The methods portion of the article explains how the researchers actually conducted the research. Often it will include information on the participants and data collection methods used. They will also explain how the data was analyzed. This section may also include limitations of the research.
Results This is where the authors tell you what they found.
Discussion Here the authors discuss how their findings (results) tie back into the other research done in the field and why what they found is important. They may also give ideas for further research.
References This sections includes all the references to items cited within the body of the article.

 

Library Help

Library home page     By E-Mail      By Phone       In Person      Contact a librarian online      Research Help      Research & Course Guides      

AskAway

Regular hours: 

Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m - 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

 
Library Home E-mail Phone  In-person Online Chat Website Research Guides          

This site is maintained by the librarians of Okanagan College Library.
If you wish to comment on an individual page, please contact that page's author.
If you have a question or comment about Okanagan College Library's LibGuides site as a whole, please contact the site administrator.