|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. relevant advanced degree, active researcher, experienced practitioner?)|
|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 does it 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 scholarly sources. For some assignments, you may be required to use only articles from peer reviewed journals.
Peer review is one accepted measure of quality. So, if you are unsure about the quality of an article, checking whether the journal it was published in is peer reviewed is a good place to start. 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 reviews, scoping reviews or systematic reviews.|
Tips to identify a research article:
Some study designs are considered to be more authoritative sources evidence than others due to methodologies that minimise bias. A number of "Evidence Hierarchies" have been created to help readers with this distinction:
Critically thinking about the information you find is key to understanding content and making informed judgments. Study Help have created the resources below to help: