Identify the sources that are key to your project. This will make the information more manageable and relevant.
How many sources are enough? That depends on your topic, your style of working, the scope of your project, and assigned requirements. You might identify several sources you consider important, but only a few that are absolutely essential.
One likely scenario is that you may identify a few key sources that help you focus your project, but as your work progresses you may revisit other sources or identify new ones.
If you worked through Step 4: Refine Topic, you now have a well organized set of sources to review. This gives you a good basis for identifying key sources.
Start by skimming sources, as described in Step 3: Do Initial Search. Now you should have a better idea of what you are looking for, and will probably want to read in greater depth. You are looking to zero in closely on sources and themes in the literature that are most relevant to your needs. You can make use of the "Notes" field in RefWorks or EndNote to record themes and impressions.
Some web sites contain two versions of their content, one for online reading and one for printing (usually in Adobe pdf format). To access pdf documents, you need the Adobe Reader (which is free) installed on your computer. You can download it from Adobe at http://get.adobe.com/reader/.
Read through the content of potential key sources, and decide which ones are most critical to your project (don't throw away the others--you may need them later!).
Choose sources that meet criteria for evaluating web sites (see Evaluation Criteria).
Examine sources carefully to determine how relevant they are to your particular topic.
Pay attention to your subjective reactions. You may find the writing style or approach of one source to be preferable to another.
You don’t have to agree with a source for it to be a key source. Carefully researching a source with a different view than your own is valuable to your learning and may actually make your work more credible and persuasive.
Consider using a variety of key sources. For example, you could have:
For more information on sources, see the UNC Writing Center's handout on Evidence, which discusses sources as evidence and the distinction between primary and secondary sources.