Introduction to Research Tutorials

Learn basic research skills with these short tutorials.

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Why watch?

Watch this video to learn how to:

  • evaluate articles, books and websites 

Evaluating Information

This video is approximately 4 minutes. You can pause or rewind at any time using the controls below.


In this video, we'll learn how to evaluate various sources of information. When evaluating a source, you should always consider who wrote it, who reads it, how it was developed and edited, and when it was written. Let's consider 3 sources related to the life-cycle assessment of a car: a journal, a book and a website.

The article. This article was written by professors of engineering and polytechnic schools, who have the proper credentials to be reliable sources for the topic. As a journal article, this source is intended to be read by scholars and researchers in its field. Articles are developed through research, then subjected to peer review before publication. Depending on the field of the article, the date of publication may be important. This article is from 2006, which means that it may be valuable, but you should also consider finding newer sources.

The book. Using Summon, we can find out who wrote the book we're considering. A Google search reveals that he is a professor at Carnegie Mellon. Books are intended for a wider audience than articles, ranging from experts to everyday readers. You can often read the preface to get an idea of who the intended audience of a specific book is. Because books are selected by publishers, they don't go through peer review like articles. Scholarly books, however, will include references to their sources. Once again, the field will determine whether or not you need to limit yourself to recent sources.

The website. This website was authored by the Green Car Congress, who provides editorials about sustainable mobility. When evaluating an organization's information, be sure to consider their bias. Websites are open for anyone to read, but this one is intended for those interested in energy and transportation issues. The article we're considering here references one source used in its development. It was not peer reviewed and is an opinion piece, not a scholarly work. These are all factors to consider when using a website in your research. One advantage of websites, however, is that they allow for faster publication and access of information. This article is from April 2011, which is quite recent.