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Getting Started in Graduate Education: Evaluating Your Resources

This guide presents how to get started utilizing the resources available to your for your course work at Cairn. Select the appropriate tab for information about a particular topic.

Resource Checklist

Use this checklist to evaluate your sources:


o   Why was the resource written? Was the author's purpose to inform, persuade, or to refute a particular idea or point of view?


o   Is the resource intended for the general public, scholars, professionals, etc.


o   What are the author's qualifications? Consider author's educational background, past writings and experience. Is the author associated with an organization or institution? Who is the publisher? Are they well known? Does any group control the publishing company?


o   Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda? Facts can be usually verified. Opinions evolve from the interpretation of facts. Are the author's conclusions or facts supported with references?


o   When was the information published? Is the date of publication appropriate for your topic?


o   Is it relevant to your topic? Is the topic covered in depth, partially or is it an broad overview? Does the resource add new information, update other sources or substantiate other resources that you have consulted?


o   Does the author present multiple viewpoints or is it biased? How do critical reviews rate the work?

Popular vs. Scholarly

Popular Magazines

  • Contain many photographs and advertisements
  • Articles are shorter and cover a wide range of topics.
  • Research and current issues are broadly summarized

Scholarly Journals

  • Contain little or no advertisements
  • Long in-depth articles cover case studies, report research and contain bibliographies
  • Geared towards scholars, researchers, or professionals