I have a list of results. How do I further narrow that list down to sources I might use?
The best way to do that is to read the whole article or book. However, during the research process, there isn’t always time to do that. Whenever possible, you should take advantage of tools such as subject headings/descriptors and abstract.
A subject heading (sometimes known as a descriptor) is a standardized term, usually a word or a phrase used to describe what the article or book is about. There are usually several subject headings per book or article. Subject headings exist in order to organize a collection of information. Consider using subject headings you find as search terms.
An abstract is a short summary of what the article or book is about.
Other tools for books you should use are a table of contents and the index once you find the book on shelf.
You've done your search in a database and found a list of articles. Or you have some book titles to consider. You now have to decide whether or not these potential sources help you accomplish your purpose. One way to do that is to see how you might use those sources in your research paper.
The BEAM model below might be helpful. As you examine your results ask yourself, does this source fall into one (or more) of the categories below?
Adapted from Beeghly LIbrary, Heidelberg University: http://libguides.heidelberg.edu/eval/beam#s-lg-box-2260491
Meredith Farkas, Meredith. “Good for What? Teaching Sources for Sustainable Lifelong Information Literacy." Presentation, Association of College and Research Libraries, Portland, OR, March 25-28, 2015. http://www.slideshare.net/meredithfarkas/good-for-what
Rubick. Kate. 2014. "Flashlight: Using Bizup's BEAM to Illuminate the Rhetoric of Research." Presentation at Library Instruction West 2014. http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/liw_portland/Presentations/Material/10/
Rumble, Juliet, Carter. Toni and Noe, Nancy. 2015. "Teaching Students the 'How' and 'Why' of Source Evaluation: Pedagogies that Empower Communities of Learning and Scholarship." Presentation at 2015 LOEX Conference. http://www.loexconference.org/2015/presentations/rumblePresentation.pdf
Woodward, Kristin M. and Ganski, Kate L., “BEAM Lesson Plan” (2013). UWM Libraries Instructional Materials. Paper 1. http://dc.uwm.edu/lib_staff_files/1
BEAM originally developed by Joseph Bizup.
Bizup, Joseph. "BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing." Rhetoric Review 27, no. 1 (2008): 72-86. doi:10.1080/07350190701738858
These brief videos give an overview of ways to distinguish between popular magazines & scholarly journals -- and why it matters.