Nursing: Evaluate

Evaluate information

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. 

More help:

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:

  • Look for terms such as empirical research or original research in the article
  • What is the research methodology used? - e.g. randomised controlled trial, case-controlled study, cohort study, quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods etc.

 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?
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Study help

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:

Evaluate your search

Searching takes time. You may need to continually reflect on, and adapt your search to find what you need.

Consider:

  1. Are results finding relevant articles? Do they answer your research question?
  2. How many relevant results are your finding?
  3. Why are irrelevant results appearing?
  4. Is the databases you are using appropriate? Do you need to try another one?
  5. Have you missed any key terms in your search?
  6. Can you refine your results further? Try adding another concept or applying a search limit.