*Relation to topic (read title, subject headings, table of contents, abstract)
*Date of publication (be aware of what your needs are -- do you need the latest research, or a perspective from a particular historical period, for example)
*Author's authority (check name in Google, Google Scholar, and other databases)
*Journal's scholarliness (click on linked journal title to see more information about the journal and whether it is peer-reviewed)
*Publisher's scholarliness (check publisher in Google for more information; keep in mind that university presses are usually considered scholarly)
Also, know your professor's expectations and/or requirements for source material for the assignment and evaluate each source accordingly.
A critical piece of the evaluation process is determining a source's role in your research. A handy tool for remembering a few ways a source might be used is the acronym BEAM:
B - Background (materials used to establish facts)
E - Exhibit (materials such as raw data, case studies, images, or other examples that could illustrate a point)
A - Argument (materials you engage with or respond to by countering, extending, or refining the claims made)
M - Method (materials from which you borrow an approach, idea, or method for analysis)
Bizup, Joseph. "BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing." Rhetorical Review 27.1 (2008): 72-86.
For more in-depth information on the evaluation of sources, contact Sara or another Grinnell College librarian. You can also try Purdue University's Online Writing Lab.
Access, use, and reproduction of the electronic resources made available through the Grinnell College Libraries are governed by license agreements with publishers which may impose greater restrictions on use than does copyright law. The user is responsible for observing these agreements as well as the copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), including the fair use guidelines that protect scholarship and research.
When accessing subscription databases from off-campus, you will be asked to sign in using your campus username and password. If you have any problems accessing library resources from off campus, please contact Rebecca Ciota or Tony Lewis.
Fully searchable library of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama, and prose, with nearly 400 full-text literature journals and other key criticism and reference resources.
1926–present. Online database indexing scholarship on literature, language, linguistics, and folklore.
Access to the full text of approximately 350 scholarly electronic journals in the arts & humanities, social sciences, and mathematics.
Indexes 2,000 journals published worldwide covering the history of the United States and Canada. Includes some full text. Coverage includes articles, book and media reviews, and abstracts of dissertations.
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