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Basic Research

CRTL + F

As an early scholar, it is normal to be overwhelmed by "scholarly" articles.

Here is the best tip for navigating these articles:

CTRL + F

Hold down the Control key on your keyboard and press the F key. You should now see a search bar in your browser.

This is your browser's search bar and can be used on ANY WEBPAGE. ‚Äč

  • Grab your list of keywords (remember they are really important) and type one into the search bar.
  • You will see your keyword highlighted (unless it's nowhere on the page).
  • At this point all you need to do it skim the article, reading the sentences surrounding your keyword.
  • If there are only 2 or 3 uses of your keyword, maybe that is not the article for you. Try another article. 

This way, you do not have to spend time reading an article until you decide you are going to use it for your paper.

Overwhelming looking scholarly article: Easy to navigate scholarly article:

Evaluating Information

Library resources have already been evaluated by publishers and librarians for credibility, so using these can save you time. To evaluate information on your own, use these questions:

  • Relevance: Does the source have a lot of information about your topic or just a few sentences?
  • Currency: When was the information published? Has new research been published since then?
  • Authority: Is the author an expert on the topic? Do they have credentials to prove they are an expert?
  • Accuracy: Do the authors support their claims with evidence? Do they cite their sources?
  • Purpose: Do the authors explain why they are sharing this information? Do they present multiple points of view?

If the answers to all these questions are yes, then the source is likely to be credible. If you are not sure, ask your professor or a librarian for help.

Adapted from:
"Is This Source or Information Good?" Meriam Library, California State University, Chico, 2018, https://library.csuchico.edu/help/source-or-information-good.

Reliable Websites

Anyone can publish anything on the Internet, so carefully evaluation information on the Web to make sure it is credible using the questions above.

Websites from the government, universities, and non-profit organizations, ending in .gov, .edu, and .org, are usually more reliable.  For example, Pew Research Center is a non-profit organization that provides high-quality statistics, facts, and reports online. 

To search Google for these types of sites, enter your search terms followed by site:.govsite:.edu, or site:.orgFor example, to search for government websites about climate change, you would type climate change site:.gov into the Google search bar.

Peer-Reviewed Sources

The peer-reviewed articles in the Learning Commons databases have already been evaluated by experts, making it easier on you to find credible information.

To see only peer-reviewed articles in your Primo search results, under Show Only, click on Peer-Reviewed Journals. Most of the libraries databases will also have a link or checkbox to display only peer-reviewed sources in  your search results.