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Information Literacy at Idaho State University: Source Quality

It defines information literacy and leads students to useful resources.

Library Options

Searching the web is an option, but it shouldn't be your ONLY option.

Most students barely scratch the surface of available options for research. Besides books and articles you discover through Google and other online searches, give some or all of the following a try:

Film cover for documentary titled "G is for Gun: The Arming of Teachers in America." Non-Fiction DVDs

Besides connecting you to some basic factual information on your topic, documentaries on DVD can tune you into the themes of controversy within your topic and introduce you to some notable experts on your topic whose work you can seek out for further detail. Videos might also connect you to the emotional aspects of a topic that might be more difficult to realize through reading alone.

Video Streaming Databases

Image of man on couch talking with words "Counseling and Therapy in Video: Library" 

The ISU Libraries provide access to streaming videos on a variety of topics. They can be watched anywhere you have access to the Internet, but you must login with your college username and password when off-campus.

For more information and links to other streaming websites, see the Streaming Video at ISU Library guide.

Congress.gov also records sessions in the Senate and the House.

Scholarly Articles

Image: cover of 'Journal of Counseling and Development'

You can find articles published in academic journals both on the web and by searching library databases. Scholarly articles explore original research done by experts in every academic field imaginable. 

Source Quality

What is a 'quality' source?

Why should you be concerned about source quality as you research your topic? In fact, there are several reasons:

  • Faculty will consider the choices you made as they evaluate your work
  • A key skill of the digital age is evaluating information on the basis of credibility
  • Biased, incorrect, or misleading information will quickly diminish the credibility of your writing
  • As a participant in scholarly conversations, you have a responsibility to share only that information that contributes to the continuity of truth and discovery

How will you measure 'quality'?

First consideration: What is your purpose?

Even within the sphere of academic writing, the manner in which you make use of sources can vary. Sources can provide:

  • Definitions and background to inform the reader
  • Illustrative examples for clarification of your assertions
  • Real-life examples or case studies to enliven your writing
  • Expert quotes, opinions or the findings of scholarly research
  • Data and statistics to support your assertions or conclusions

For the first three of the above, news sources, such as magazine and newspaper articles, and general books could provide excellent background and detail for more compelling writing.

How can you evaluate sources?

See below checklist for ideas on how to decide between a good source and a questionable one:

Image: Source checklist for academic writing

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