In the research process you will encounter many types of resources including books, articles and websites. But not everything you find on your topic will be suitable. How do you make sense of what is out there and evaluate its authority and appropriateness for your research?
• When you find information, you need to
decide if it is appropriate to use for your
• This short tutorial will help you to evaluate all
the information you find
You will need to use quality or scholarly
resources for your assignment/thesis
Ask these questions when you evaluate
articles, books, websites, reports…or any other work that
you would like to use!
• Who is the author?
• Is the item peer-reviewed?
• What references have been used?
• How relevant is the item for my assignment/thesis?
• How accurate is the item?
• How current is the information?
• What sort of language is used?
Who is the author?
• Quality publications will give you the name of the
author or the organisation that is responsible for
• (Be wary of publications that do NOT provide this
• Dube, L, & Ngulube, P 2012, 'Knowledge sharing in a multicultural
environment: challenges and opportunities', South African Journal Of
Libraries & Information Science, 78, 1, pp. 68-44, Academic Search
Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 15 January 2014.
• Note : the authors are associated with
reputable educational institutions. This
suggests the article will be of a certain
standard or quality.
Is the item peer-reviewed?
• Articles may be published in peer-reviewed of
• This means the articles have been reviewed
for quality by experts in the field prior to
• Tip : Not ALL journals are peer-reviewed. You
can check a journal’s website to see whether it
What references have been used?
• Each argument made within a scholarly work
should be backed up with evidence
– Scholarly work is written in an academic or
• Look for in-text references (citations) and a
Example of an intext reference
relating to the preceding statement.
HOT TIP : The bibliography or reference list is a good place to look
for further useful resources!
appears at the
end of the
article in the
How relevant is the item?
• Once you have found the item, you need to check it against
your assignment topic.
• Does it cover the main topic in enough depth?
• Is the country and time period you are interested in
• Is the source appropriate and useful for your topic? Are you
• Primary sources : First-hand information from the time of the
event, such as newspapers, letters, diaries, interviews
Secondary sources : Publications which quote other sources. They
generally provide evaluation or analysis, and are written after the event
Scholarly articles : An article or report written in an academic or
How accurate is the item?
It may be difficult to tell whether the information you are reading is correct if you
are not familiar with the subject area.
Is the author or organisation associated with a particular view or position and
could be there be a conflict of interest?
How is the article written and what sort of language is used?
Emotive or vague, opionated, propaganda?
Are the sources of facts stated? Statistics from reliable sources?
HOT TIP : Scrutinise the domain of a website such as .com which
indicates a commercial website , .ac or .edu is an educational
institution, .gov indicates a government body, a ~ indicates a personal
What sort of language is used?
• Is the LEVEL of the article appropriate?
– Not too basic, or too specialised
Is the language scholarly, technical or professional?
should be specific to that field
Who is the intended audience?
scholars or general public?
Is the language at an appropriate level for you
Do you understand the content, do you
understand what is being said?
• Consider the following points:
– Author credentials
– Examination of the references
– Relevancy of topic
– Accuracy of item
– When was it written?
– Language and intended audience