Accessing and Evaluating Information


The End Product
Your desired end product, the upcoming dyadic paper, drives your current information need, which is your paper topic. Once you know your topic, then you are ready to formulate strategies for finding the information. The information you find should support the viewpoint you intend to argue in your dyadic paper.

This week's focus is on accessing and evaluating information for your upcoming dyadic paper. Gather the very best sources you can find. Your ability to support your viewpoint depends on it. Your colleague who is arguing the opposite viewpoint, not to mention your professor, may question your sources if they are not high-quality!

As you gather information, write down source citation information. Citation information includes

You will need this detailed information in order to cite your sources appropriately in your dyadic paperís bibliography.

A good place to begin your research is CQ Researcher. Click on CQ Researcher now (READ THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH BEFORE YOU CLICK). Once you get to page titled CQ Researcher,then click on link labeled Search CQ Researcher. Next, note that when you access a fee-based database (e.g. CQ Researcher) on the APSU Library website, you are asked to type in your social security number with dashes. The copyright license signed with Congressional Quarterly (CQ) requires that we verify that you are an APSU student. Once you reach the opening CQ Researcher screen, you are asked for a username - type austin and a password - type peay. Sorry this is so complicated. This is a new product, and we hope to make it simpler eventually.

Find the 12/7/01 CQ Researcher article Distance Learning. Notice the different parts of the article, including a bibliography of additional sources. Also, notice the Pro/Con section related to the question: Do for-profit distance-education ventures restrict academic freedom?

Accessing Free & Fee-based Information on the Web
It is important to understand how to access both free and fee-based areas on the Web. The free areas may be searched through search engines or directories. Read How to Search the Internet to learn more about these specialized tools.

The APSU Librarians recommend that you use the search engine (tool) Google to search the free information areas on the Web. Google does a terrific job of providing you with a list of the websites most relevant to your search. Whatever search engine you choose to use, it is wise to learn to use it well. Find the Help link on the search engine opening page and carefully review it to become a better searcher.

Some of the fee-based information sources found on the Web are freely available to you as an APSU student through the APSU Library website. You learned about one of these fee-based sources, CQ Researcher, earlier. In this course, you will learn how to use InfoTrac and Felix Online Catalog, both of which are available in the Library website's Jump to Database box.

Just to give you an idea of how much fee-based information sources cost, a subscription to InfoTrac (EA) costs the APSU Library over $10,000 per year for a site license. Right now, all Tennessee libraries (K-12, public and academic) have free access to EA through the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), which is currently funded through a federal grant. The grant is about to run out and the Tennessee Legislature will decide to fund TEL or not.

Remember, as you use search engines such as Google, databases (e.g. InfoTrac), and Felix Online Catalog, that online help or search tips exist either within these sources or in the APSU Library Website How-To Guides. You can learn advanced search techniques, such as truncation, phrase searching, and limiting, which will help you pinpoint the exact information you are seeking. With so much information available, it is time-saving and rewarding to learn search techniques that help achieve precise results.

We librarians can help you if you don't understand these concepts. You can contact a librarian via Ask a Librarian at

Evaluating Information Resources
Once you identify information sources, you must evaluate their usefulness to your dyadic paper, as well as whether they are high quality sources. Quality control is a reality in most print sources, which undergo a rigorous editing process. However, anyone can post information on the Web. Moreover, there are cases where misinformation and disinformation have purposefully been posted to the Web. Go to the University of Winnipeg Library's Media Literacy website to find out the difference between misinformation and disinformation.

Make sure you carefully evaluate information you find on the World Wide Web. This quote from an IBM advertisement in Time Magazine, November 24, 1997, says it all.

What's the difference between a little kid with a web site and a major corporation with one? Maybe nothing, maybe everything, but you won't know unless you examine the sites you find very carefully.

Two Assignments:

1st Assignment - Required Readings & Threaded Discussion Questions

Questions will be posted to the Discussion Board by Wednesday, February 13, 2002. Prior to entering the threaded discussion with your classmates and instructors, you should carefully read the required readings (websites listed below). Then, carefully consider the assigned questions. You are required to be an active participant in the threaded discussions.

Required Readings Related to Evaluating Information Sources

How to Evaluate Journal Articles

How to Evaluate Books

How to Evaluate a Web Page

ICYouSee: T is for Thinking

Go to the Discussion Board beginning Wednesday, February 13, 2002. Participate in the class discussion regarding the following questions. Try to post your five topics (first question below) as early this week as possible, so that Dr. Speck can assign dyadic paper topics.

Be sure to post at least twice in response to the last three questions, once with your initial comments, and once in reply to another studentís comments. Try to keep the discussion flowing with your fellow classmates.

2nd Assignment Evaluating Sources - Once Dr. Speck assigns your dyadic paper topic & the viewpoint you are to present, begin this 2nd assignment in which you gather three sources to support your arguments.

Use CQ Researcher available via the Jump to Database box on the Library website at to begin research on your dyadic paper topic.

Find three additional sources that will provide you with information which supports your viewpoint. The three required sources include

NOTE: If you cannot find a book about your topic listed in Felix, then note that in your annotated list and find a second source in InfoTrac.

You are to submit a 100-word annotation about each of the three additional sources in which you discuss

Add and Send your three annotations, including source citations in MLA format, to the Digital Drop Box within Blackboard. Be sure to keep a copy. You will use the source citations later in your paper.

Tip: Use the Citing Sources in MLA Format, which was developed by Anne Berwind, Head of Information Services, and is available on the APSU Library website.

Also, remember to use the Help information within the three search tools. Also, the APSU librarians have posted InfoTrac Help information and Felix Help information on the Library website.

One of the goals of this course is for you to learn about information sources and tools available free to APSU students via the APSU Library website. That is why use of InfoTrac and Felix Online Catalog are required. We also want you to have experience using Google.

If you have trouble accessing any of the search tools or finding information on your topic, email Lori Buchanan <>. Good Luck!