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Writing a Literature Review: Phase 4: Evaluating Information

This guide provides an overview of the literature review and its place in a research project and contains resources for finding the information you need at APSU Library.

Need to be Objective

In evaluating what they've read and deciding what to include in the lit. review, researchers should, of course, be objective. They must

  • avoid shunning information that contradicts their own views.
  • keep open minds.
  • look at the topic from different vantage points.
  • in short, act in a scholarly manner.

Types of Questions to Ask When Assessing Readings

In writing a literature review skilled researchers evaluate their sources and evidence very carefully. For example, they ask such questions as:

  • Who funded the research studies? For example, what credence can be given to a study on African American IQs funded by the Ku Klux Klan?
  • Who actually performed the research?
  • When and where were the studies carried out?
  • What were the political, socio-economic, religious, etc. conditions at the time of the research?
  • Is there any reason to suspect that the methodology or the interpretation of the results were restrained by some authority? For example, what should a researcher conclude about medical experiments performed in Nazi Germany?

Evaluating Websites

When searching for resources on the Web think about CABLE!

C  Currency

A  Authority

B  Bias

L  Level

E  Explore

Currency - Knowing when the Website was created can help you judge the quality of the information found there.  Some information (such as historical facts) will not change, but other information (like stock quotes) changes daily.  
 
Authority - Knowing about the author of the information is useful.  Is the author an expert in his/her field?  Check the domain name, as it can offer identifying information about the site.
 
Bias - Think about the purpose of the site.  Is there a position/opinion presented?  Also, notice any sites that are linked to it.
 
Level - Even if a site has useful information, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is appropriate for college-level work.  Ask yourself the following questions:  Is the site popular or scholarly?  Is the information correct?  Is the research well-supported?
 
Explore - It is important to explore further!  Did you verify the information in at least one additional source?  Did you investigate the author or publisher of the site?  Did you find reviews, criticism, or rankings of the Websites?

Subject Guide

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Michael Hooper
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