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Virtual Library Orientation

An orientation to FCC's library resources via a virtual platform

Why Evaluate Resources

Resource evaluation is an ongoing process of critically assessing information. As we push the envelope of what we understand about the natural world and human behavior - we must continually question our assumptions of what we had previously thought to be true. For example:

  • Eggs - What's up with them? Are they good or bad for you? According to the Food and Drug Administration, eggs do not meet the criteria for a healthy food. However, nutritionists and dietitians have come around on eggs as a healthy food - is the high cholesterol of eggs outweighed by their high amounts of protein? It remains an open question that is the subject of continuous research.
  • Cigarettes - Nearly everyone knows that there is a causal link between smoking cigarettes and increased rates of cancer among smokers, but this was not always the case. In the 1950s, the first studies showing a link between smoking and cancer were published. In 1990, after 40 more years of research, the US Surgeon General announced that smoking was the most extensively documented cause for disease worldwide. Despite this, it took another 8 years for states to take up legislative efforts to restrict or ban smoking in public spaces.  This is an example of how research needs to provide abundant evidence in order to effect changes in policy. 
  • Sick - You get some nasty bronchitis, you take some antibiotics - and you know that there is some relationship between the medicine you take to address illness and the biological systems of your body such that the medicine will, eventually, help you feel better.  But that was not the case until 1860s - less than 200 years ago. Prior to that illness was caused by anything from an imbalance of the humours, to bad vapours, demonic possession - and treatments ranged from consuming mercury (now known to be poisonous to humans), opium, or blood letting. It was by performing research, and building upon the research of others that we've come to a time where we are starting to engineer retrovirus for immunotherapy treatments of cancers.

All of this research required careful questioning and critique of what was thought to be true and known at the time. In short, researchers had to evaluate the claims and assumptions about their topic, and then do the work of determining if they were true, false, misapplied, or misunderstood. As a college student knowing how to evaluate claims and sources will make your papers and projects better, because you will be more capable of finding, and effectively using, high quality resources.


Is your resource crap? The CRAAP test is a rubric you can apply to a source in order to determine the appropriateness of its use in your papers and projects. The CRAAP test is most helpful once you have decided on a topic, a research question, and are at the stage of researching background and scholarly sources.

Currency - How old is this information? When was y

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