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Writing a Literature Review: Step 3: Evaluate Your Info.

This guide is designed to help students writing a literature review for a Master's level project or paper. It can also be adapted to use with a large research project at other levels.

The Research Process

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Evaluating Information

You will need scholarly information for your literature review.  As you go along, be sure to evaluate the information you find.  During the search process, reading the abstract may be helpful in determining if an item is useful to your topic or not. You will want to use your critical thinking skills to determine an item's biases, objectives, accuracy, and methodology.  Try to focus on finding high quality items, instead of a large quantity of items.

These guidelines will help you evaluate your sources.

    • Can the factual information be cross-checked?
    • For books--does it have a table of contents, footnotes, and bibliography?
    • For articles and websites--do they have footnotes and bibliography?
    • What are the author's qualifications? Can they be verified?
    • What institution(s) is the author affiliated with?
    • Who is the publisher? is it a commercial publisher, a trade association, is the item self-published?
    • For journals--is it a scholarly source?
    • For websites--what is the domain? '.edu' vs. '.com'?
    • Are any biases clearly stated?
    • Is there a political/ideological agenda? Is it open or hidden?
    • Who is the intended audience? students, general public, researchers?
    • Why was the item written/created?, to inform, entertain, teach, persuade?
    • How up-to-date is the information?
    • How current are the sources in the bibliography?
    • Does it meet any time limits for your topic?
    • For websites--when was it created?, last revised?, do the links still work?
    • For books--is there a table of contents and index?, is it organized logically?
    • For articles--is it an overview, a a comprehensive article? Is it a primary, secondary, or tertiary source?
    • Is it relevant to your topic?
    • Does it provide new information about your topic?
    • Does it show results of research?
    • Does the author cite authoritative, credible sources?
    • Does the author properly cite his/her sources?

Contact me for assistance

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Conrad Woxland
Charles J. Keffer Library | MOH 206F
Subjects: Education, Psychology