Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

FCH 232 - Career Skills for Chemists: Strategies for Searching, Reading, and Evaluating

This guide supplements the information literacy portions of the FCH 232 course.

Search, Evaluate, Read


Search Strategy

Follow these steps to help you find sources on your topic. You will likely need to repeat any or all of these steps as you search for sources.

  • Step 1: Break topic down into concepts
  • Step 2: Brainstorm related terms and synonyms
  • Step 3: Combine your terms
  • Step 4: Begin searching a database (consider on that is specific to your topic)
  • Step 5: Evaluate your search results

Tips for Reading Sources

Try these methods to better help you comprehend what you are reading so that you can incorporate sources into your paper.

  • Preview - what type of source, how is it laid out
  • Annotate - make notes, write down questions
  • Outline, Summarize, Analyze
    • Look —for basic argument
    • What —reasons are there for the evidence?
    • What —doesn’t make sense?
  • Look for repetitions and patterns, and key propositions
  • Contextualize - consider other circumstances, your own knowledge and experience
  • Compare & Contrast - look for relationships among other sources you’ve found

Tips for Evaluating Sources

Consider these elements when evaluating sources to use in your persuasive paper.

  • Readability - consider what you can understand, as you read you will understand more
  • Relevancy
    • How close does the source align with your information needs?
    • Consider your topic and purpose statement and assignment requirements
  • Accuracy
    • Consider bias, date, audience, and references
    • What are the author's credentials?
  • Reliability vs. Validity
    • Reliability is the degree to which a test consistently measures whatever is being measured
    • Validity is the accuracy of the results
  • Consider disagreement among sources and how that contributes to your argument