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Evaluation Questions

To provide students with a systematic way of evaluating what they read, guidelines were developed by Reference Department staff at McIntyre, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. A series of nine generic questions evolved that would apply to most types of literature (whether books, articles, government publications, etc.) and virtually all subjects. The questions could be used by experts and novices. Of course, an expert might do a better job of critiquing when using the recommended step-by-step procedure.

  1. The author
    • Who is the author?
    • What is the author's occupation, position, titles, education, experience, etc.?
    • Is the author qualified (or not) to write on the subject?

  2. What is the purpose of writing the article or doing the research?

  3. The audience
    • To what audience is the author writing?
    • Is it intended for the general public, scholars, policymakers, teachers, professionals, practitioners, etc.?
    • Is this reflected in the author's style of writing or presentation? How so?

  4. Does the author have a bias or make assumptions upon which the rationale of the publication or the research rests?

  5. The research
    • What method of obtaining data or conducting research was employed by the author?
    • Is the article(or book) based on personal opinion or experience, interviews, library research, questionnaires, laboratory experiments, case studies, standardized personality test, etc.?

  6. At what conclusions does the author arrive?

  7. Does the author satisfactorily justify the conclusions from the research or experience? Why or why not?

  8. Scholarship
    • How does this study compare with similar studies?
    • Is it in tune with or in opposition to conventional wisdom, established scholarship, professional practice, government policy, etc.?
    • Are there specific studies, writings, schools of thought, philosophies, etc. with which one agrees or disagrees and which one should be aware?

  9. Are there significant attachments, or appendixes such as charts, maps, bibliographies, photos, documents, tests, or questionnaires? if not, should there be?

Used with permission from :
Eugene A. Engeldinger, "Bibliographic Instruction and Critical Thinking : The Contribution of the Annotated Bibliography.: RQ 28 (Winter 1988) : 195-202.

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Last reviewed 8/2005
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