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ENGL 316 - Business Writing ( Skucek ): Home

Evaluating Information

Regardless of where you are getting your information, you need to be aware of a few simple attributes about whatever information you are using.

When evaluating information, here are five helpful considerations:

Currency: timeliness of the information.

Relevance: importance of the information for your need.

Authority: source of the information.

Accuracy: reliability, truthfulness, correctness.

Purpose: reason that the information exists.

Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources

For this project:

Primary resources are the raw data, interviews, conversations, correspondence, reports, original documents that you collect directly from other people or organizations related to your project.  Informational items that haven't been extensively interpreted by another person.

Secondary resources are scholarly journal articles, popular press or trade publication articles, books, data that has been extensively manipulated or normalized for presentation. Secondary sources have typically been interpreted or narrated or contextualized by the author.  While still very helpful, they are one step (thus secondary) removed from the actual event or occurence. 

Getting Started


Keywords are decent words to start with; but can consume much more time than is necessary.  All disciplines or areas of study typically have some coherency and generally agreed upon terminology for how ideas and concepts should be identified.  Disciplines that have their own unique vocabulary of meanings and concepts usually explain and expose that terminology through a Thesaurus.


This vocabulary of disclipine specific terminology is frequently called a Thesaurus or Subject Terms.  Think of them as "tags" that help you get from lots of results with stuff that you don't want, to a manageable set of results focusing on the concepts that you are really after.  A thesaurus will frequently include a definition of what is meant by the term and include suggestions and other related terminology.  A thesaurus saves you time and improves the results that you obtain by focusing on the CONCEPT and not just the word. 


Odds are you're going to find something; and probably too much.  Make use of the limiting and narrowing functionality in any research database to include exclude specific kinds of attributes of information (publication year, language, type of publications, etc.).  Just like shopping on Amazon.


Research Databases

Business Reference Databases

Polling / Survey Resources

Primary Sources of Demographic Information


Comparative Analysis

Cause & Effect Analysis

Best Advantage

Library Search ( nearly everything )

Advanced Library Search:      

APA Citation Style and Grammar Guidelines

MLA Citation Style

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