Evaluating Search Results

Criteria for Evaluating Search Results

When evaluating search results, consider whether each source is:

Useful Is the source relevant to your focused topic?
Is it likely to offer you new information or answers to your questions?
Timely Is this an older or newer source?
Do you need the most recent information or historical/background information?
Appropriate Is this source at a scholarly level or is it aimed at a general audience?
Would an expert use this source for research?
Authoritative What expertise does the author have?
Do they discuss their methodology or procedures for their research?

Evaluate the search results in Figures 1, 2 and 3 below using the evaluation criteria listed above.

1. Sample research topic for use with Figure 1: Does American democracy lead to all Americans becoming wealthier?

  • Which of the four books listed below would be most useful in answering the above research question? (Choose as many as you want).
  • Of the books you chose which has the most current information (which is most timely)?
  • Screenshot of catalog database results.

    Figure 1 - Results List from the Library Online Catalog

    2. Sample research topic for Figure 2: An Examination of Social Criticism in Television Cartoon Shows

    Figure 2 is the results list from a ProQuest database search

    • Which of the articles in Figure 2 do you think might be useful as sources for this topic?
    • Which of the articles in Figure 2 do you think are from scholarly or peer-reviewed journals?
    • Given this topic, do you think any of these articles might be too old to be useful?

    ProQuest search results

    Figure 2 - Results from a ProQuest Search


    3. Sample research topic for Figure 3: Men who suffer from bulimia have long-term health problems. (Note: Your instructor is requiring that you use ONLY scholarly journal articles).

    Screenshot of

    Figure 3 - Shows Results List from the PsycARTICLES Database

    • Is Figure 3 useful for answering your research question? Explain why or why not.
    • What is the publication date for the article in Figure 3?
    • Does this research topic require that you find only the most recent (timely) information?Screenshot of Men's magazine cover.
    • Your instructor says scholarly articles are appropriate for this assignment. Is the article in Figure 3 from a scholarly journal? (You may need to consult the Types of Periodicals chart.)
    • Identify the parts of the record in Figure 3 that help you make this determination.
    • Would an article from Men's Health magazine be appropriate for your research question? Why or why not?

    Two quick ways to determine authority are:

    1. Look at the author's credentials


    2. Look for the research methodology or the procedures used in assembling the information being reported.

    • Do any parts of the record in Figure 3 describe the authors' procedures while carrying out this study?
    • If so, which part(s)?

    Last Updated 11/10/07 ng

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