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Evaluating Sources: An Interactive Guide: Notes and Acknowledgments

Use library databases, catalogs, and other tools to help you critically evaluate an article or book and place it in the context of an academic discipline.

Customizing This Guide

The Evaluating Sources interactive guide can be adapted to a particular class assignment, field of study, or institution by including links to sources pertinent to the focus desired.


Thanks to Randy Hensley, Head of Instruction at Newman Library, Baruch College, City University of New York; Elizabeth Simmons-O'Neill, Assistant Director of Expository Writing and Director of the Community Literacy Program, University of Washington; and Virginia Chappell, Associate Professor and Director of First-Year English, Marquette University, for developing the Evaluating Sources workshop on which this interactive web guide is based. To learn more about how and why the workshop was developed, see the sources in the Bibliography box on this page.


The Web version of this exercise grew out of an active learning-based workshop developed at the University of Washington. The workshop, while highly effective, is most successful with a group of no more than 25-30 students. It is difficult to scale to a larger class size. In addition, the workshop requires the instructor and/or librarian to spend a fair amount of time working out the logistics of conducting the session: dividing the class into smaller groups, preparing and monitoring the activities of each group as they work in the library, and paying careful attention to time constraints.

This Web guide permits an individual student to work through all of the sections of the exercise at his or her own pace.  At the same time it doesn't preclude designing a workshop in which the members of a class, even a large lecture of several hundred students, are divided into virtual cooperative groups, each taking on one section of the exercise and later sharing their findings with the class as a whole.


Chappell, V., Hensley, R., & Simmons-O'Neill, E. (1994). Beyond Information Retrieval: Transforming Research Assignments into Genuine Inquiry. Journal of Teaching Writing, 13 (1-2), 209-224.

Simmons-O'Neill, E. (1990). Evaluating Sources: Strategies for Faculty-Librarian-Student Collaboration. Chicago, IL: 41st Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 321259) 

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