Below is a tutorial on how to use the ResearchIt CT (formally known as iCONN) database.
EVALUATING SOURCES EFFECTIVELY
What are the author’s credentials?
- Who is the author?
- Are there other published materials by the author on the subject you’re researching?
- Does the author have an academic or institutional affiliation?
- If you can not find out any information on the author be careful about using the information published as a source.
What is the purpose of the source?
- Why was the information written? Is this a personal issue for the author or does he/she have a financial stake for writing it?
- Whom is the intended audience?
- Does the work contain information regarding other scholarly work or is it opinion?
What is the scope of the source?
- What does the source cover?
- Does the source provide enough information on your topic or do you need additional sources?
- Does the source contain information from other scholars?
Who published the source?
- Did you find the source in a peer-reviewed Journal?
- Is the source published by an organization with a financial stake or particular viewpoint on your topic?
How current is the source?
- Is your source up to date and providing the most current information regarding your topic
– Information adapted from the article Questions to Ask About All Sources
EVALUATING WEB SOURCES
Who is the author of this site?
- Is an author identified?
- If no author is identified be skeptical of using the source.
- What are the author’s credentials?
- Is the Web page a federal agency (.gov). a non-profit page (.org), an educational institution (.edu), or a business (.com)?
How accurate and objective is the site?
- Does the website contain information that can be confirmed?
- A website that contains data that can not be confirmed can not be trusted.
- What is the websites point of view? Is it bias?
- Consider the advertising used on the site, is it there to fund the site or is it there to serve another purpose?
- Does the website contain knowledgeable information regarding the topic?
- Does the author have reliable sources and provided citations to review them?
- Is the material on the website up to date?
- Do the footnotes or bibliography add credibility to the site?
What is the site’s currency and coverage?
- Is the information on the website up to date?
- Is the date listed on the website?
WHAT ABOUT WIKIPEDIA?
USING WIKIPEDIA AS A RESOURCE
What is Wikipedia?
- Wikipedia is an online general encyclopedia.
- The site is a “wiki” that allows users to contribute to the information posted.
- A user-created website.
What you need to ask yourself before using Wikipedia as a source:
- What information am I looking for?
- Did my teacher give me specific instructions on where to look for information, such as finding scholarly journals?
What Wikipedia can be used for:
- Gathering general background information regarding a topic.
- Generating ideas and terminology associated about your topic.
- Generating search terms you can use in a scholarly database.
- Utilizing bibliographies to find additional resource that may be credible and reliable in regards to your topic.
Why using Wikipedia as a source may not be a good idea:
- The information posted on Wikipedia may not always be credible because it is a user-created site.
- There is no mandatory review process to ensure the information posted is accurate.
- Information posted may be bias or controversial.
Information adapted from the article How Do I…? Use Wikipedia from the Undergraduate Library
5 STEPS IN EFFECTIVE RESEARCH
5 Steps in Effective Research
1.) Formulate a plan
- Make sure you understand what you are researching. Write down what you know about the topic and what you want to know.
- Prepare keywords that you can search for rather than typing a question into a database or an internet browser.
2.) Decide Where to Begin your Search
- Remember that the Internet is not always the best place to start!
- Easiest way to access our library card catalog and databases is to go to our Symbaloo page at https://www.symbaloo.com/mix/oxfordacademylibrary
- Start by using our online card catalog system: Koha (K on Symbaloo)
- Next try the LION system (L on Symbaloo)
- For access to reliable databases use iCONN.
- Try World Book Online.
- Set up a time to meet with me (Mrs. Gilman) regarding any help you need or questions you have.
3.) Searching the Internet
- Try more than one search engine: such as Google Scholar, Google News, Bing, iSeek, Zuula (meta-search engine).
- Look beyond the first few results. Just because they are the first “hits” doesn’t always mean they are the best.
- Avoid using Wikipedia for research.
- Look for web addresses ending in .edu, .gov or .org (but still be sure to evaluate the site using step 4).
- Use more than one keyword and include words such as AND, OR, NOT (for example: “bald eagles” AND extinction NOT football).
4.) Evaluating the Search Results
- Is what you are looking at a Primary Resource?
- Who created the website and/or wrote the article?
- Why was the information on the website written? Is it bias, selling something?
- When was the information written or last advised? Avoid using outdated sources.
5.) Don’t forget to cite
- Certain databases, such as iCONN provides the citations for you.
- Check out these sites to help you write your citations (all located on our Symbaloo page):
Problems with uploading Microsoft Word Docs to Google Docs?
- You need to convert what you are uploading to a Google editable format.
- Go to the homepage of your Google Drive.
- On the right hand of the screen click on the tool icon.
- Choose “settings.”
- Next choose “convert uploads.”
- From now on when you are uploading a Microsoft Word Doc it will be converted to a Google Doc and you will be able to edit it much easier!
- Within your Google Doc locate “Tools” in your tool bar at the top of the screen.
- Choose “Voice Typing.”
- The Voice Typing icon will appear at the left hand of your screen. Click on the icon to activate it and the icon will turn red. Now you can voice to text. For example say: “George Washington was our first President.” Note you do have to say “period” to end a sentence and to start a new line simply say “new line.”
- Click on the Voice Typing icon to stop Voice to Text.
- While in your Google doc go to “Tools” in your tool bar at the top of the screen.
- Choose the “Research” option.
- A search box will open up at the right hand side of your screen.
- You can also get images this way and click on them and drag them into your doc.
- For a citation of the web page you visited simply hover over the web address site and a citation button will appear. Upon clicking on the citation button an automatic citation will appear in your doc.
Primary sources are artifacts, documents, or recordings of information from the period of time being studied. They are particularly useful because they provide a first hand account of the topic being researched.
A couple ways to access Primary Sources is to visit the ResearchIT Page or check out the Digital Public Library of America for access to their Primary Source sets.
For more information check out the video on below which explores the difference between Primary Sources and Secondary ones.