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Research 101: Step 2 - Finding Articles/Evaluating Information

Provides resources to support students in conducting research and using APA style formatting.

Recommended Databases

Use the resources below to begin locating full-text articles for your research!

  • Access one of the library databases below by clicking the linked resource.
  • If you are off-campus, enter your D2L log-in credentials to log in.  If you need assistance or troubleshooting help with this, please use the contact us form on our website, or call us at:  (406)771-4398!  MSU-Bozeman and MSU-Northern students on the Great Falls campus will have to access the databases from their home library.
  • You are now on the database search screen - enter your keywords in the search box(es).  Remember the brainstorming process and the keyword search strategies you generated in step 2 and on your research log?  Now is the time to use those.  For example, to address the topic question:  "Should the United States regulate stem cell production, research and human cloning?"
    • stem cell* AND regulat* AND United States
    • stem cell* AND human cloning
    • stem cell research AND United States AND regulate
  • Adding the asterisk symbol (*) at the end of the root of a word with no spaces in between will command the database to search for all forms of that word.  For example, if you type:  regulat*   then that will search:  regulate, regulations, regulates, regulating, etc. all at one time.  Try this the next time you do a search!

Evaluating Information

You wouldn't 'settle' when making important decisions in your life, so please don't 'settle' for just any information for your writing assignments. 

Thinking critically is a very important part of the research process.  It doesn't take much time to do a quick evaluation of whether or not the article you are considering using for your research is a valuable addition to your gathered information.  

So, please, put each article to the 'CRAAP' test below.

Ask yourself, is this article or information source:

Current? Consider the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevant?  Consider the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authoritative? Consider the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?  examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accurate? Consider the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose?  Consider the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

If you find your source is current, relevant, authoritative, accurate, and purposeful in content presented, you are good to go!  If it doesn't meet the above criteria - it's CRAPP, and you should toss it!

The CRAAP test was developed by librarians at CSU Chico.

Full-Text Finder

Do you already have your citation information and need to locate the full-text article? You can search the Full-Text Journal Finder in order to check whether or not the library has the journal/magazine/newspaper you need through an online database or in print.  

search for the title of the journal or magazine in the full-text journal finder, not by the title of the specific article you are looking for.  

Remember, you must go to a database first to locate a citation for an article before using the full-text journal finder!