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Illinois Tech Library Guides

History: Information Evaluation

A guide to history resources including : databases, newspapers and websites.

Citation Management

To get your sources together before writing, we recommend using the citation management software Zotero. It's very easy to use, it;s fast and free, and Zotero for Firefox does not require local admin privileges to install. You can install it on the library's computers, but it will be deleted when you log off. Zotero Standalone is available for Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux. Zotero Standalone has plug-ins available for Chrome & Safari. Plug-ins available for You can set up an account for online syncing, and it has an add-in for Microsoft Word and OpenOffice.

 You should be aware that Zotero is browser specific: works with Chrome FireFox and Safari, but not Internet Explorer. Syncing is not the same as backing up your data. Zotero recommends that if you are working on a large document, you back up your library file manually. Zotero Standalone requires local admin rights on your computer to install, so you will not be able to install it on lab or library computers.Online sync is view-only, no editing.Only a few citation formats are supported, but they are the most common ones (for example, ACS is not supported).

Other questions?

Feel free to stop by the RHO, or make an appointment IIT's Writing Center

Need an online resource right now? Try Purdue University's OWL Writing Lab. They have a lot of information on using the APA, MLA and Chicago citation styles.

Evaluating information with the CRAAP test:

This test was developed by librarians at California State Chico. The original can be found here. Although you can use the questions to create a score for evaluating the material, I think these are just generally common-sense questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not to use a source or website.

Currency: 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    Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?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?

Relevance: 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?

Authority: 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)

Accuracy: 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: 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?

Subject Guide

Nichole Novak's picture
Nichole Novak
Contact:
Paul V. Galvin Library
35 W. 33rd St.
Chicago, IL 60616
312.567.3613