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Critical Thinking & Academic Research

This guide is created to aid you in your development of critical thinking skills and in your ability to conduct research using library resources.

Tip 2 - Relevance


Questions to Ask

  • What is the scope of the resource, and is it matching with the scope of the research?
  • Is the resource just a general overview of the research topic, or is it much more focused? How detailed information is provided?
  • What is the targeted audience with the resource (experts or general audience)? Is there technical jargon? 
  • Did you compare the resource in terms of relevancy with the other resources you found so far? 

Where should you look to determine the currency of a source?

Print & Online Sources

  • Read the abstract or summary first, then the introduction and conclusion
  • See the table of contents if there is any, or look through the subtitles
  • Examine subject headings and keywords that are tagged to the source
  • Look at the level of language of the resource. See if there is technical jargon, charts, or tables and identify the intended reader of this source
  • Make sure the information you found is not too little or too broad and it matches with the scope of your intended point or thesis statement of your research

What to avoid

  • Sources that provide minimal and less useful information for your research project
  • Sources that provide too little or too broad information for your research.

Exercise: Assess Relevancy

Relevance is the level of importance of the information and for you to critique and compare it with your research topic. 

You are researching a paper where you argue that Obesity in House Pets.  Which of these resources would you consider relevant? Please explain why or why not?

1- Bomberg, E., Birch, L., Endenburg, N., German, A. J., Neilson, J., Seligman, H., Takashima, G., & Day, M. J. (2017). The financial costs, behavior, and psychology of obesity: A one health analysis. Journal of Comparative Pathology, 156(4), 310-325.

2- The growth of pet obesity. (2019). The Veterinary Record, 185, 1.



G.R. Little Library

Elizabeth City State University