Answered By: Jennifer Harris
Last Updated: Nov 09, 2015     Views: 21

Evaluating a source by relevancy means that you are asking: Does it answer your question or contribute to your research?

When considering the relevancy of a source, there are several things to ask yourself:

  • Is the scope of the source is appropriate for your research? Does the source provide a general overview of your topic or is it focused specifically on a single aspect of your topic?
  • Who is the intended audience for the source? Is the information too basic or too technical? Does it assume you have prior knowledge about the topic?
  • How many sources have you found? Have you searched thoroughly enough to find the most relevant sources available?
  • Does the source meet the parameters of your assignment? Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research project?

Where should you look to determine the relevancy of a source?

Print & Database Sources Websites
  • Read the abstract, summary, or table of contents
  • Scan the full text of the source
  • Examine subject terms and keywords associated with the source
  • Look at sources beyond the first page of search results
  • Read the abstract, summary, or table of contents (if available)
  • Scan the full text of the source
  • Examine subject terms and keywords associated with the source (if available)
  • Look at sources beyond the first page of search results

What to avoid:

  • Sources that provide minimal usable content for your research
  • Sources that provide content which is too broad or too narrow for your research
EXAMPLES QUESTIONS TO ASK
What is "global climate change"? Who is the intended audience for this web site? Does it include information that is too technical or too basic?
Foreign Affairs Does this website assume you have prior knowledge about the topic? Does it address a topic broadly or is it very specific?
How Stuff Works Does this website offer a general overview of a topic or does it answer a specific question? Would you feel comfortable citing this source in your research project?

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