Skip to Main Content

Research Process

This guide will help you through the process of research, including picking a topic, focusing you topic, finding keywords, searching library resources, evaluating sources, and citing sources.

Evaluating Source

While performing your searches on both the Internet and using the Library's tools, you will need to evaluate the material you find to ensure they are from reputable, or credible sources. 

For more in-depth information to help you evaluate sources, check out this Research Guide:

Ask yourself these questions to help you evaluate the sources you are gathering for your paper.
Evaluate What to look for in Journals and Magazines What to look for in Websites
  • Does the assignment/topic require the most current information, historical information, or information over a period of time?
  • If you are researching a current, or emerging topic, you may want only the most recent information. Or, you may need older information to provide a historical context.
  • For books: what is the copyright date? Is it the most recent edition? 
  • Does the assignment/topic require the most current information, historical information, or information over a period of time?
  • When was the site last updated?
  • Are the links up to date?
  • What are the author's credentials or reputation? 
  • What other works on the subject has the author written? 
  • Is the author an expert? A government agency? A journalist?
  • Who is supplying the information?
  • Is it an educational institution? A government agency? A commercial supplier? A non-profit?
  • If the information is not current, is it still accurate? 
  • Can the information be supported by other resources? That is, can you find the same information elsewhere?
  • Is evidence given to support the information? Can you find the sources or studies that may be cited? Is there a works cited or references page? 
  • Are sources of information cited?
  • Is the information complete and accurate? Are the links complete and accurate?
  • Does the site look to be carefully edited?
  • Who is the intended audience? Researcher or experts on the topic? Trade or professional groups? The general public?
  • Is the site appropriate for your needs?
  • Who is the intended audience? 
  • Is the site built to sell a product or ideas? To inform? To educate?
Point of View (Bias)
  • Does the source have a particular bias?
  • Does it promote the ideas of a particular group?
  • Was the study funded by an advocacy organization with a specific point of view?
  • Is the information presented objectively?
  • Is it factual information or an interpretation of facts?
  • Are there assumptions or opinions stated?
  • Does the information appear to be free from bias? 
  • Could the organization hosting the site manipulate the data or information to meet their needs?
  • Is the site free from advertisements?
  • Are various points of view, theories, techniques or schools of thought offered?
  • Is the article written for academic purposes or for your entertainment?
  • Is the information written to sell a product or an idea?
  • What is the purpose of the site or article?
  • Is it to share new, scholarly research?
  • Is it to report the news? Is it to interpret and offer opinions on the news?