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.

  • What is it that's useful about the ones that look potentially helpful?
  • Is it the audience being addressed? the content? the timeliness?

2. Evaluate each item selected more carefully using the full database record.

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Does it lead you to other sources?
  • Will you be able to understand it?

3. Evaluate your choice for databases to use to find information, for example, the Todd Library catalog, general or subject article databases, Web sites or search engines.

  • Are you getting what you expected,
    • books vs. articles?
    • magazine articles vs. scholarly journal articles?
  • Do your results seem to cover the topic appropriately?
  • Can you understand what you are seeing or is the material way too technical or specialized?
  • Are the materials identified in your search results addressed to an appropriate audience, e.g. experts in the field, popular audience, etc.?

The first two levels of evaluation help you determine whether your search is turning up the results you want. The third level helps you determine whether you are looking in the right place for the information you want.