Evaluating Todd Library Catalog Results

Purposes of this lesson:

  • Use library catalog records to learn more about a book.
  • Recognize the levels of evaluation necessary when using the library catalog.
  • Generate alternative search strategies based on catalog records.

What's Next?

Now that you have thought about your topic some more and thought more about what types of information you want to find, we can look at specific strategies for finding the "right" information. The remaining three parts of this section look at specific strategies for evaluating your search results with an eye toward finding specific kinds of information, e.g. for books (library catalog), for magazine/journal articles (using Academic Index) and for Web sites.

Are You Finding the Right Information?

To end up with information that supports your argument, you must constantly cast a critical eye upon your search results. You will evaluate your search results at several levels:

1. Evaluate the potential usefulness of the lists of items in your search results.

Which Type of Resource Should I Use?

The answers to these questions will influence where you look to find additional information to support your thesis. The following table shows various approaches you might use to find information geared to specific audiences, purposes and time frames.

Your Topic Revisited - Intro

So far you have explored your topic, identifying areas and issues that interest you, and you may have identified some books, articles and/or Web sites that appear useful. It's time now to come back to your topic and think about it some more. Specifically, you must move from a general topic question to a thesis statement.

Your Topic Revisited

Purposes of this lesson:

  • Identify appropriate resources for finding different kinds of information.
  • Generate questions to evaluate search results.
  • Generate alternative strategies for where to look for information and how to recognize what is needed.

Refining Your Search

Now that you have explored your topic and identified areas of particular interest, it's time to find the evidence to support your opinions and arguments. This section will help you develop strategies for getting to the right information by evaluating what you are finding, where you are looking and what else you might try.

What's Next?

You have completed this lesson on exploring your topic.

Continue on to learn how to get more information about your topic from books.

Working with Your Topic Exercise

This exercise is intended to get you thinking about your topic. What do you already know? What are the questions YOU have about this topic? Why is it interesting to you?

Identifying the Important Aspects of Your Topic

Before doing searches in computer databases, it's a good idea to break the question down into its key concepts. For example, our sample research question: "What is the history of the endangered species list in the United States?" has these key concepts:

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