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Ekstrom Library

English 102 Information Literacy Activities and Lesson Plans: Evaluating Information Sources

Activity Guide: Evaluating Information Sources

Audience: English 102

Duration: 20-25 minutes

Tools/Technology: Online Scholarly Article, Google, Padlet (optional)

Learning Outcomes:

  • Distinguish among common types of information sources and explain key differences in creation and dissemination processes (such as peer review)
  • Evaluate the credibility and relevance of information sources, applying specific evaluating criteria appropriate for the research context or situation

Description: This activity can be used introduce students to the structure of peer-reviewed articles and how peer-reviewed articles differ from freely available information sources found on Google. At the end of the activity, students will have a better understanding of how information sources vary in purpose and audience, and will have some specific evaluative criteria to use when researching.

You might begin with a short discussion on purpose and audience. You could pull up an example article, like a current news article, and discuss how it is written for the general public to inform them of a particular event or issue going on in the world. You can also briefly discuss the editorial process and the credibility of the source for academic research.

Next, introduce students to the exercise they will be completing. They will look at a scholarly article and write down (or use Padlet to post) three characteristics that make it a scholarly article. Students will also answer questions about the article's purpose and audience. (Let students know they do not need to read the article in its entirety.) They will then visit the journal's website to find information about the editorial process. Finally, students will search Google for another article on the same topic and answer questions about its purpose, audience, and overall credibility. See the "Box to Copy" on this page for example questions. 

After students have had time to answer all of the questions, come together as a class and discuss. Have students talk about the characteristics of a scholarly article and ask questions about any big evaluative criteria they may have missed. Also discuss the purpose and the audience of scholarly sources and how they are more specialized than articles written for the general public. Go to the journal's website and go over how to find information about the editorial process with students. (You can refer back to this in the database when you show students how easy it is to find only scholarly, peer-reviewed articles.) Finally, ask students about the articles they found on Google; if time allows, you could have a student/group come to the front of the room and show the class the article they found and how they determined its purpose, audience, and overall credibility. 

Box to Copy: Evaluating Information Sources

*Type the title of the scholarly article and link to it here*

1. How can you tell that this article is scholarly? Write down at least 3 specific features.

2. What is the purpose of this article? Who is the audience?

3. What journal was this article published in? Go to the journal's website and find its editorial policy. How would you rate the credibility of the journal?

4.  Go to Google and find another article on this topic. How does this article compare to the scholarly article? Does it have a different purpose or audience? How would you rate the credibility of this article?

Discover. Create. Succeed.