When evaluating information consider:
|Accuracy||Are arguments supported with independent evidence? What types?|
|Audience||Is it intended for a general audience or someone familiar with the research in the subject?|
|Authors||What are their qualifications (e.g. advanced degree with years researching)?|
|Content||Is the content within your research scope? Is it what you are looking for?|
|Currency||Check the publication date. Are recent developments considered?|
|Language||Is it of a higher level language and use discipline-specific terminology?|
|Peer review||Is it peer reviewed? Most books and articles are peer reviewed before being accepted, as part of the publishing process. However, be careful because there are some publishers who simply publish what they are given. For example, they will take a thesis and re-badge it as a book without any editorial intervention.|
|Publisher||Is the publisher reputable (see peer review)?|
|References||Are in-text citations and references given? Can you easily follow them up?|
At university you are expected to use quality sources including peer reviewed journal articles. Peer review is an accepted measure of quality. For some assignments you may be required use only peer reviewed articles.
If you are not sure about the quality of an article you are looking at, it is a good idea to check whether the journal is peer reviewed. If the journal is peer reviewed you can be confident that the article is scholarly.
|Research articles||Contain original (empirical) research therefore they are considered primary sources of information.|
|Review articles||Contain a critical evaluation or appraisal of studies within a particular field therefore they are considered secondary sources of information. Review articles can include literature review, scoping review or systematic review.|
Tips to identify a research article:
Being able to critically think about and read information you find is key to understanding the content and making informed judgments about it.
You cannot assume that everything published is the accurate, good quality and the best evidence.
Quick guides to help you:
Searching takes time. You may need to continually reflect on, and adapt your search to find what you need.