Critically evaluating information resources is an essential skill for students undertaking university studies. Not all information is reliable or true, nor will all information be suitable for your assignment or project.
Scholarly information is high quality research written by subject experts to advance research and knowledge. Scholarly information may also be peer reviewed or refereed. This means that other subject experts have reviewed the publication to ensure the information it contains is reliable and credible.
For more information watch What is a scholarly journal? and Peer Review in Three Minutes.
Use the following criteria to help you evaluate information to determine whether it is appropriate to use in your assignments.
- How relevant is the resource to your topic or question?
- Does the resource provide a broad overview or does it relate to just one aspect of your topic?
- Have you read a variety of resources to determine if this one is useful?
- What is the educational background of the author?
- Is this topic in the author’s area of expertise?
- Are they regularly cited by other authors in the field?
Viewpoint of author or organisation
- Is the author or organisation associated with a particular point of view or position?
- What is the purpose of the resource? Is it intended to inform, to persuade, or to entertain?
- Who is the intended audience for the resource?
- Is the resource at the appropriate level for your needs? – is it too basic or technical?
- Has the author cited appropriate evidence to back up their theories/conclusions?
- Is there a bibliography or reference section? (This may contain further useful resources)
- Has the resource been through the peer review process?
When was it published
- When was the resource published?
- Is the information still current or have there been further developments in the topic area?