ART 201: Introduction to Art History - Evaluating Information

Open ART 201: Critically Evaluating Information

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This tutorial is the second in a series intended to assist students in ART 201 with the research paper assignment. The series will show students how to generate keywords from your paper topic, search for scholarly sources using the Salisbury University Libraries' website, and evaluate the sources.

*While this tutorial is part of a series intended for ART 201 and is intended to be completed in a sequence, these tutorials may be helpful to others outside of the class.

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Let's begin from the "Critically Evaluate Information" tab of the course guide.

For college-level research, you'll want to use only the highest-quality information sources you can find. For this assignment, you'll need a "scholarly" source (either a book or an article)- but what does that term "scholarly" actually mean?

The oversimplified answer is: a scholarly source is one that is written by either an academic or professional expert. In art history, that could be a source written by: an academic professor, museum professional, art critic, or other expert within the field.

What are some other characteristics of a scholarly source besides having an expert author? Click here to find out!

There are other ways to evaluate sources, as well, besides just determining if it's scholarly or not. Referring to the course guide, you can also use the CRAAP Test, outlined fully on the guide linked to this tutorial, to gauge the efficacy of the source for your assignment.

  • C: Currency
  • R: Relevancy
  • A: Authority
  • A: Accuracy
  • P: Purpose

Review these criteria carefully.

Now what do these criteria mean in the discipline of art history?

Currency

  • When was the article/book/book chapter/etc. published?
  • Has the information been updated since it was originally published?

Relevancy

  • Does this information relate to the assignment topic?
  • Who is the intended audience for article/book/etc? Academics? Students? Museum professionals? Critics? Children? The general public?

Authority

  • Who is the author- a professor? Museum curator? Independent researcher? Fellow artist? Art critic? Someone else? (This isn't always readily apparent so you may have to do some additional searching.) 
  • Is the author actually qualified to write on the topic? What impact does that have on your perception of the source?

Accuracy

  • Are the author's sources cited, either in in-text citations, footnotes, or endnotes?
  • Where is the information coming from- other research articles or books? Primary sources? Websites? Again, what impact does that have on your perception of the source?

Purpose

  • Is a thesis stated?
  • Is the author presenting facts or opinions?
  • Are there any biases that you pick up on?

The last question you may want to ask yourself when considering a source is: would you be comfortable citing the source in your research assignment? 

Be sure to consider each of these criteria for your sources when completing your research assignment.

Have questions? Please contact the liaison librarian for Art and I'll be happy to help you out with your research.

Contact information:

Caroline Eckardt
cmeckardt@salisbury.edu
GAC 132
(410) 548-5972

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