In almost any initial search you do, you will find some results that aren’t really relevant to your research question.  When doing a database search, you can find clues that will help you determine if the source is relevant to your topic.

Look at the type of source you are looking at.  Is it the right kind of source for the kind of information you need? 

Look at the title of the article. Does it include your topic?

Is the journal title reflective of the subject you are working with?

Is the publication date recent?  Do you need more current information?

Look at the subject terms.  Do you see your search terms or related terms (or maybe better search terms you should try)?

Read the abstract. You should be able to quickly tell if it seems relevant enough that you want to track down the full text.

Ultimately the best way to determine relevancy is to read the full article or source!


(this example is from a search in the Academic Search Premier database)

If you only find a few sources that seem relevant, use those to lead you to other relevant sources. See the Information Chaining page.

Still need help? Ask us.