Evaluating Articles in a Database

 Micah Gjeltema

Montana Tech Library

This is an evaluation activity that I use in my classes after going over information evaluation. After discussing the importance of evaluating information online and in their day-to-day lives, we transition to talking about how even though some information may look academic, it’s still useful to think critically about the context. I typically project the content onto a screen so that the class can work through and discuss it together, but it can also delivered as a handout.

The idea is to encourage students to evaluate academic information based on the details provided on a database article listing.

In the first example, the red flags are:

Currency (an article on social media published in 2007 is probably not the best available source for information on this topic)

Evidence (the sampling used in the survey is woefully lacking)


In the second example, the red flags is:

Authority (the chief design officer of Apple has a conflict of interest when discussing the merits of headphone design)


In the third example, the red flags are:

Publication (Newsweek is not the best available source for medical information)

Authority (while the author is a doctor, she is not a medical doctor)


I close the activity by encouraging the students to reflect on the importance of critical thinking and context not only when browsing non-academic information, but also when doing scholarly research.

Handout: Research Journal

by Megan Stark, University of Montana

This is a multi-page Research Journal that was created to support students in taking multiple steps in their library research, including identifying their existing knowledge about a topic, formulating keywords and evaluating sources. It was designed for first-year college students, but is easily applicable to other levels. This resource will assist students as they brainstorm and formulate a research question, and then guide them through the process of research as inquiry.