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Evaluating Sources: Why library?

Find out who is providing the content and why. Get information from different sources. Be skeptical.

Why use the library?

When you search on an internet browser, you often run into a page that invites you to pay a fee to have access to an article.  We call this a “pay-wall” 

To get around the paywall that is blocking your access, you can go to your library and see if they can give you access for free.

If you can get the article for free through a library, it is because a library pays for a subscription to the journal or collection of journals on behalf of their community.

Scholarly peer-reviewed articles are generally considered to be more trustworthy than opinion pieces because they are evaluated by a peer-group that has expertise in the article’s subject, before it is even published.

That peer review indicates that other scientists or practitioners in a field have read the article and deem it worth publishing and using as a basis for further research.

Using Library databases gives you the advantage of superior screening and organization, to provide you with the best resources your library can afford. See: Resources A-Z 

In contrast, the internet has made it possible for anyone to publish anything. That means that if you see and article-like publication in Google Scholar , it may be quite worth reading, or it may be total garbage, and anything in between.

Regardless of where you find your information, it is important to evaluate the information based on the basics of whether the article is recent, relevant, and has a similar range of conclusions as other related studies.

Keep an open mind, but be skeptical. For more detail, see Evaluating Sources


Points to ponder:

There is no “truth”, only the “most defensible truth”, and that that “truth” may change as new information becomes available. 

Even the best scientists can become emotionally involved in their point of view.  The logical trap of “I’ll see it when I believe it” is a danger we all face.

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