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Beyond Google: Research for College Success

EVALUATING different types of resources


  • Learn how to search databases in order to retrieve articles
  • Learn how to evaluate sources using the R.A.D.A.R framework
    • ‚ÄčRationale
    • Authority
    • Date
    • Accuracy
    • Relevance
  • Continue to identify parts needed to prepare citations for articles


If you are at this Lecture #4 site and reading this text, I hope you have already completed Quiz #4 as well as the chapter from the e-textbook - chapter 7.  It is important that you have done so. This chapter would have introduced you to locating and evaluating articles.  Your 2nd draft of your annotated bibliography requires you to find three articles from three different databases: Nexis Uni, Opposing Viewpoint, and Academic Search Complete.  You were introduced to these databases last week in Lecture #3 and this week's lecture will show you how to search these databases.

Following the above objectives, this lecture will introduce you to search strategies and techniques for locating and retrieving articles in databases for newspapers, magazines, and journals.  Please pay attention so that you may mimic these exercises [demonstrated] when you are ready to begin research on your chosen topic for your annotated bibliography. 

You will also be introduced to RADAR, a framework developed to judge or critique the quality of sources. You will find this framework very helpful to use in other courses that will require you to do research papers. 

Lastly, this lecture will review the parts of a citation.  Please note the ones to be used for books.  

We are half way through the course!

Any questions you may have, please do not hesitate to email me or drop by my virtual office hour.   

4.1. Searching the Opposing Viewpoints database

Opposing Viewpoints provides articles on current controversial issues such as abortion, capital punishment, climate change, cloning, immigration, and more. Available material on each topic includes viewpoint essays, scholarly articles, newspapers & magazine articles, statistics, and links to related websites.   Please watch this video to learn how to search the database, Opposing Viewpoints.  Please click on the LINK to start the video (4 mins).


Later on, when you are ready to search for articles in this database, you may locate it at the CSI Library's homepage by following these instructions:

  1. Go to the library homepage at
  2. Click on the Database TAB in the section under "Search Library Resources."
  3. Look for the "Database A-Z List" and click on it.
  4. Find the alphabet you need that starts the title of the database you need.
  5. Enter your SLAS username and password if asked to.

4.2.1. Learn how to search for articles using Academic Search Complete

Academic Search Complete is a multi-disciplinary database the includes scholarly and general interest sources in business, news, medicine, humanities, social sciences, and science and technology. Examples of some of the periodicals include: TIME Magazine, Science, Business Week, National Geographic, Journal of Modern History, Journal of Popular Culture. Coverage: 1887-present. 

Please click on the hyperlinked title, Academic Search Complete, to watch a video about searching this database to find articles.

Later on, when you are ready to search for articles in this database, you may locate it at the CSI Library's homepage by following these instructions:

  1. Go to the library homepage at
  2. Click on the Database TAB in the section under "Search Library Resources."
  3. Look for the "Database A-Z List" and click on it.
  4. Find the alphabet you need that starts the title of the database you need.
  5. Enter your SLAS username and password if asked to.

4.2.2. TUTORIAL: Searching for Articles

The interactive tutorial in this LINK will reinforce what you have just watched and help you understand what you read about periodicals and databases in Chapter 7.  Please click on the link to start the tutorial.  As soon as you click on the link, you may need to adjust your browser so that it accommodates two(2) browsers.  The interactive tutorial guide will be on your left and the interface of the database, Academic Search Complete, will be on your right.  As you read through the tutorial, please participate in the mini-quizzes throughout.  At the end, please insert your instructor's email when prompted to do so in order to be graded.  Worth 25 points. 

4.3. Searching for newspaper articles using Nexis Uni

Includes an extensive array of full-text articles from daily news agencies and networks (i.e., newspapers, wire services, tv transcripts, and newsletters), business literature, industry and company information, legal, biographical, and reference resources. Please watch this video to learn how to search the database, Nexis Uni, to find newspaper articles.  Click on this LINK to start the video. (4mins)

Later on, when you are ready to search for articles in this database, you may locate it at the CSI Library's homepage by following these instructions:

  1. Go to the library homepage at
  2. Click on the Database TAB in the section under "Search Library Resources."
  3. Look for the "Database A-Z List" and click on it.
  4. Find the alphabet you need that starts the title of the database you need.
  5. Enter your SLAS username and password if asked to.



4.4. Examine closely the scope of each periodical below...

Read the description of the three publications below and think about, as you read, how different they are and how each may meet any or all of the criteria of relevance, quality, objectivity, and coverage. 

Journal of Science teacher (JSTE) is the flagship journal of the Association foe Science teacher Education. it serves as a forum for disseminating high quality research and theoretical position papers concerning pre-service and in-service education of science teachers.  The journal features pragmatic articles that offer ways to improve classroom teaching and learning, professional development, and teacher recruitment and retention at pre K-16 levels.  Coverage: 1989-2002; 2005-present.

Scientific American is the world's premier magazine of scientific discovery and technological innovation for the general public.  Readers turn to it for a deep understanding of how science and technology can influence human affairs and illuminate the natural world.  Its readers are not primarily scientists; to the extent that they have technical backgrounds, they read Scientific American for information about areas outside their expertise.  In every issue, leading scientists, inventors and engineers from diverse fields describe their ideas and  achievements in clear and accessible prose; the work of select journalists rounds out the offerings.  The graphics are rich in content and visual style.  Coverage: 1948-1950; 1958 - present.

Science is a leading outlet for scientific news, commentary, and cutting-edge research.  Through its print and online incarnations, Science reaches an estimated worldwide readership of more than one million.  Science's authorship is global too, and its articles consistently rank among the works most cited research.  Science seeks to publish those papers that are the most influential in their fields or across fields and that will significantly advance scientific understanding. Selected papers should present novel and broadly important data, syntheses, or concepts. They should merit recognition by the wider scientific community and general public provided by the publication in Science, beyond that provided by specialty journals. Science welcomes submissions from all fields of science and from any source.  The editors are committed to the prompt evaluation and publication of submitted paper while upholding high standards that support reproducibility of published research.  Science is published weekly; selected papers are published online ahead of print.  Coverage: 1880 - present.

Anonymous poll: Given the above descriptions, which of the above titles do you think is a Peer-Reviewed Journal?
Journal of Science Teacher: 1 votes (25%)
Scientific American: 3 votes (75%)
Science: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 4

4.5.1 R.A.D.A.R: A Tool to Evaluate Your Sources

When deciding whether or not an information source (e.g. a newspaper article, a magazine article, a chapter in a book, or a scholarly journal) is useful in context of your research, you will first need to evaluate each source to see if it matches your topic.  RADAR is a framework that can help you remember what kinds of questions you should be asking about an information source as you evaluate it for quality and usefulness in your research.

  1. Why did the author or publisher make this information available? Is there a sponsor or advertising? Who pays to help make this information available?
  2. Are alternative points of view presented?
  3. Does the author omit any fact or data that might disprove their claim? Does the author use strong emotional language? Are there other emotional clues such as all CAPS?

Rationale is important because books, articles, and web pages are made to serve a purpose.  They can educate, entertain or sell a product or a point of view.  Some sources may be frivolous or commercial in nature, providing inaccurate, false, or biased information.  Other sources are more ambiguous about potential partiality.  Varied points of view can be valid if they are based on good reasoning and careful use of evidence. 

  1. What are the author's credentials?
  2. Is the author affiliated with an educational institution or a prominent organization?
  3. Can you find information about the author in reference books or on the Internet?
  4. Do other books or articles on the same research topic cite the author?
  5. Is the publisher of the information source reputable?
  6. If it's on the Internet, is it fabricated or intended as satire? Check the "About" page and google it with the word fake to make sure it is legit. 

Authority is important in judging the credibility of the author's assertions. 

In a trial regarding DNA evidence, a jury would find a genetics specialist's testimony far more authoritative compared to a testimony from a random person off the street. 

  1. When was the information published? Or last updated. 
  2. Have newer articles been published on your topic?
  3. Are links or references to other sources up-to-date?
  4. Is the topic in an area that changes rapidly, like technology, or science?
  5. Is the information obsolete?

Date or currency is important to note because information can quickly become obsolete.  Supporting your research with facts that have assignments require the most current information; other materials can provide valuable information such as a historical overview of your topic. In some disciplines, the date of the source is less important.  

  1. Are there statements you know or suspect to be false? Verify an unlikely story by finding a reputable outlet reporting the same thing.
  2. Was the information reviewed by editors or subject experts before it was published? Was it fact checked? How do you know?
  3. Do the citations and references support the author's claim? Are the references correctly cited? Follow the links.  If there are no references or bad reference, this could be a red flag.
  4. What do other people have to say on this topic? Is there general agreement among subject experts? 
  5. If applicable, is there a description of the research method used? Does the method seem appropriate and well-executed?
  6. Was item published by a peer-reviewed journal, academic press, or other reliable publisher? 
  7. If there are pictures, were they photo-shopped in? Use a reverse image search engine like TinyEye to see where the image comes from.
  8. For websites, what is the domain? Fake sites often add ".co" to trusted brands (e.g.

Accuracy is important because errors and untruths distort a line of reasoning. When you present inaccurate information, you undermine your own credibility.

  1. Does the information answer your research question?
  2. Does the information meet the stated requirements for the assignment?
  3. Is the information too technical or too simplified for you to use?
  4. Who is the intended audience?
  5. Does the source add something new to your knowledge of the topic?
  6. Is the information focused on the geographical location you are interested in?

Relevance is important because you are expected to support your ideas with pertinent information. A source detailing Einstein's marriage would not be relevant to a paper about his scientific theories.  

4.5.2 Publisher's Credibility

In terms of evaluating an author, credentials include degrees received, titles held, professional affiliations, years of activity in a field, publication history, fields of inquiry, and characteristics of publication in which their work has appeared.

Similar to judging an author's credentials, knowing more about a publishing company can help you understand potential biases. Keep in mind that publishing standards vary for each publishing house.  XYZ Publishing may print anything that may bring a profit, whereas QRS University Press may screen all information they publish to ensure the validity of the content protecting their reputation. 


  • Commercial publishing houses:  Scholastics, Macmillan, Knopf Doubleday, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Scribner, and so on.
  • University Presses: Harvard University Press, Northern Illinois University Press, University of the West Indies Press, Kent State University Press, University of Puerto Rico Press, Wits University Press, and so on.
  • Associations, Societies, Businesses, Industries, and services that publish their own periodicals, newsletters, staff training documents, operating schedules, brochures: Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Publications, Modern Museum of Art, American Historical Association (AHA), Brookings Institute Press.  
  • Government and Intergovernmental Bodies: U.S. Government Publishing Office, United Nations, World Health Organization, and so on.
  • Web Publishers, which includes anyone with access to a computer network and a host computer to store and deliver their publication, including the "traditional" publishing houses. 

Self-assessment quiz

Self-Quiz on Usefulness
Instructions: Select one of the following sources as most useful for a research paper on the current use of primates in scientific laboratories: 
a. "Monkeys in our Labs," by Scott Gottieber, a USA Today staff writer.  Published in the newspaper, USA Today, Dec 15, 1989.  Includes chart, "Number of Test Primates in the US, 1975-1985."
b. Laboratory Primate Advocacy Group website.  LPAG is a nonprofit organization.  Website last updated, 2001.  " LPAG believes that the lab is no place of monkeys and nonhuman great apes."
c. "Record Number of Monkey being used in U.S. Research." by David Grimm.  Published by the American Association of the Advancement of Science.  Appeared in Science, a scholarly publication on November 2, 2018.
Anonymous poll for self-quiz on usefulness
a: 1 votes (16.67%)
b: 0 votes (0%)
c: 5 votes (83.33%)
Total Votes: 6

Example of an Annotated Bibliography for Periodicals

4.6. Prepare information for citations to your sources...

As you do your research, don't forget to keep a list of sources you anticipate to use in your annotated bibliography --books, periodicals, Websites, etc. You will need this information later to correctly present the source of every annotation your write up.  Below is at least one type of information you will need to write down with each of its important parts labeled for sources in this week's assignment:

Book: Example book citation
Article in a periodical: Example Article citation
Sources on the web: Example web citation
Online Article Example Online Article Citation


Click on the hyperlinked title to see how you can cite Images and Other Multimedia from MLA 8th edition.


Click on the following hyperlinked titles to see how to cite information from a Webpage from a News Website, Television, Video & Podcasts, and  Social Media from APA 7th edition. 


Now, go back to the BlackBoard course site

Please log in to BlackBoard to complete the following listed in Lesson#4 for the Week of Sept 16 - Sept 22.  Any assignment, quiz, or tutorial given in this lesson MUST be completed on or before September 22, 2020 and submitted by 12 noon.

  1. Watch video: How to Recognize Fake News?
  2. Prepare your second draft of your annotated bibliography - articles from three different sources.
  3. Take mini-quiz based, which is based on the above readings and modules in Blackboard for lesson #4.




CREDIT: With permission, partial content on this web page was adapted from the University of Idaho Information Literacy Portal.