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RES 502 - Research Strategies: Assignment 4

Two credit online course for Associated Canadian Theological Schools

Background to the Assignment

Evaluating Information

The task of evaluating information properly is becoming increasingly important as traditional patterns of publishing through the use of gatekeepers (editors, peer review) are being supplemented by massive amounts of information production that is not checked for accuracy/quality by anyone except the authors of such information.  This, of course, has been spawned by the Internet, but it is also found in newer trends of book self-publishing.

Evaluation involves determining if the information you have encountered is reliable, useful, pertinent and so on.  There are several websites that provide helpful information on evaluation of material from the Internet and other sources.  Here are a few of them: (Evaluating Internet Research Resources - CARS Checklist) 
(Web Evaluation Criteria) 
(Evaluating Web Pages)

Google Scholar (access through TWU library home page)

Google Scholar is a special Google-driven database of  "academic" material in electronic form (see Textbook, section 7.2.2).  The types of resources it finds include citations to books, citations to (and sometimes full text of) published journal articles, conference proceedings, academic websites, and so on.  We are including it in the course for a few reasons: 
    a. It is a "port in the storm" if you want to search for academic information but do not have access to library databases;
    b. It provides an opportunity to work with a database that is different from those provided in libraries;
  c. It can locate obscure resources for topics that have not been researched heavily;
    d. It demonstrates the advantages of search interfaces that have sophisticated features (like subject headings) as opposed to the rather limited search options available in most open web databases like this one.

Types of citations include:

[Book] - Citation for a book related to your search terms, e.g.:
[CITATION] The historical Jesus: A comprehensive guide

G Theissen, A Merz - 1998 - Fortress Press


[BOOK] The (Magic) Kingdom of God: Christianity and Global Culture Industries
ML Budde - 1997 -
... Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publicatkwi Data Budde, Michael L. The (magic) kingdom of God : Christianity and global culture industries / Michael Budde. ... 
Cited by 7 - Related Articles - Web Search


Article - Usually not designated as an article.  Generally from a journal, but sometimes from some other source or an unpublished work, e.g.:

Three Variant Readings in Luke-Acts P Parker - Journal of Biblical Literature, 1964 - JSTOR
ithe kingdom of God the kingdom of God.shall come For some other examples, see Pierson Parker, "Luke and the ...  
Cited by 3 - Related Articles - Web Search


Conference Proceeding Paper - Usually not designated as such, but the citation indicates that it comes from a conference, e.g

[PDF] Information Literacy as a Catalyst for Educational Change. A Background Paper
C Bruce - 2004 -
... Cognitive apprenticeships in education for information literacy. Paper to be presented at the IFLA 5th World Conference on Continuing Professional Education ... 
Cited by 41 - Related Articles - View as HTML - Web Search - Import into RefWorks


[Citation] - A reference to a book or article within a piece of scholarly writing, e.g.

You may have to search the open web (Google) to find the full text if available.


Google Scholar has an advanced search feature that enables you to formulate Boolean searches more easily.  It's not easy to find. To get to it, you have to click on the square in the upper left:

There is no ability to sort by type of material in Google Scholar, so results will be a mix of references to books, articles and websites.  The sort by date option only brings up results for the past year, though you can choose to search for articles from a specific range of dates (see column to the left on the results page).  

Note that you might find a lot of citations only to get the message that full text is not available.  This is why you need to log in to Google Scholar through our library home page.  Doing so connects GS with our journal subscriptions so that you can pick up full text articles in journals that we subscribe to.  See information below on how to do this.

You can configure Google Scholar in a number of ways, using the settings option:



Below is a screen shot of Google Scholar results.  You will notice an article from a journal, a book, and a "citation" without links. In this case, the first article is not available from this website, but your library login provided you with links to the right that will take you to the library's full text of the article. This feature is only available if you log into Google Scholar through the library home page.





Clicking on the quotation mark symbol under any result will allow you to create citations in a variety of formats. (Note that some Google Scholar data is incomplete, resulting in incomplete citations. In such cases, you will need to find the rest of the data and insert it yourself.)


Assignment #4

[Some students have had trouble opening the links in this assignment from the template. If that happens, open the links below instead or copy/paste the links from the template directly into your Internet browser]

[Click on the file link above to download a template in rich text format (works in most word processors).  It will form an outline so you can insert your answers under each heading. You can then submit the complete document to Prof. Badke by e-mail attachment].

Read Research Strategies, Chapter Six, Seven, and Eight, and (Evaluating Internet Research Sources - The CARS Checklist) 

The following websites were found through a Google search on the word “Salvation.”  Do the evaluations indicated:

  1. Who is the author? What biographical insights do you find about him on this site? How well is he qualified to write about the theology of salvation?
  2. Consider how he uses citations.  If he is quoting recognized Christian authors, does this make his work scholarly? Why or why not?
  3. What can you find out about
  4. To what extent would you call this site a work of scholarship?
  1. What larger publication is this article part of (find the online name of the encyclopedia and also the original print source from which it came)?
  2. Who is the author?  Google him and find out where he worked and what qualifications he has.
  3. What signs of scholarship do you see in this site?
  4. If the site looks like Wikipedia, should we give it less authority?  Why or why not?
  1. Who is the author of this web page?
  2. What is the organization behind it, what do they teach? 
  3. How would you evaluate the usefulness of this site for information on salvation?
  4. If the followers of this group are being persecuted, is this a sign that they are teaching truth?  Why or why not?

A. State your research questions.

B. For each of your topics, do a search in Google Scholar for journal articles, academic papers or conference proceedings papers (not books, dissertations, sites described as "citations," or book reviews) on each of your topics, logging into it through the library home page.  Note that you won't find the free full text that you can get from our library unless you log into Google Scholar through the library home page. The direct link from the library home page is, or see this visual:


Your results should be a list of 10 articles for each of your research questions (total of 20 articles).

a. List the search terms you used (in the form you used them)

b. For each topic, provide citations for 10 articles that you think are relevant, indicating author, title, journal title, volume number, date and page numbers.  You must be sure that these are either journal articles or scholarly papers (e.g. from the proceedings of a conference or an unpublished paper), not citations to books or theses/dissertations.  Proper Turabian Humanities (described as "Chicago" in Scholar) or APA format is required. (In Google Scholar, you need to click on the quotation mark symbol under each result to create a citation. Copy/Paste the citation. [Note that "Chicago" = Turabian]. Or you can download citations to EndNote and format them from there). If you use the "Cite" function in Google Scholar, be aware that citations are sometimes incomplete. If that is the case, click on your result's title in your Google Scholar results and find the missing information to complete your citation.

Google Scholar citation symbol:      

The citations for both topics needed to be listed in alphabetical order by author.

c. Indicate which articles are available in full text (you may need to click on a Check TWU Library link) and which are not available in full text. You can do this by putting an asterisk (*) before each citation that has full text.

Some tips:

  • You will be graded on wise choice of search terms and on how relevant the articles are to your research questions. 
  • Be sure you log in to Google Scholar through the library home page. 
  • If you cannot locate 10 articles for each topic with Google Scholar, be sure you include all your search terms in your assignment, and indicate what you think the problem was. 

Rubric for Assignment Four.  Highest grade meets these criteria:

  • Identifies the crucial issues necessary for properly evaluating each Internet site.
  • Provides fair, informed evaluation of each site.
  • Competent search terms and relevant results when searching Google Scholar. Identifies full text availability.
  • Bibliographies are in alphabetical order by author.
  • All citations are in proper Turabian Humanities (=Chicago) or APA format.