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Evaluate

Evaluating your information is about deciding which material is most helpful and reliable. Learn how to assess your sources, find peer-reviewed journals, and get to know the criteria you need to sift through it all. 

Peer Reviewed Journals

Peer review is a process where an author's work is read by other experts in the field who comment on the accuracy of what is presented and the quality of the data. 

Note:

  • Academics prefer peer reviewed sources of information
  • Not all books are peer reviewed
  • Not all peer reviewed journals are equal

How to check if an article is peer-reviewed

Use Urlrich's Periodical Dictionary (Ulrichweb) to find information on a journal, including whether or not it is considered to be scholarly.

To access Ulrichweb from the library's website...

  1. Click on Databases (A-Z)
  2. Click on "U"
  3. Click "Ulrich's Periodical Dictionary"
  4. Type the name of the journal (not the article!) into the search box and hit "enter"
  5. If there is a small black and white striped icon to the left of the journal title it is a peer-reviewed journal. 

Evaluating Information

Evaluating information has always been important, but now it is even more critical given we live in an age of  "information explosion". Using the following evaluation criteria can help you decide to keep or discard certain information you have found.

Scope
  1. What sort of information is covered and what topics?
  2. Who is it intended for? Is it aimed at primary children, tertiary students, professionals?
  3. Is it extensive coverage or limited in some way?
Currency or Timeliness
  1. When was the information published or created?
  2. Is the information relevant, appropriate or useful for today?

Authority

  1. Are they qualified to talk about the subject?
  2. Have they written/created other material?
  3. Who are they affiliated to? Will this affect their information?
Accuracy   
  1. Are statements or facts supported? Are references or footnotes provided?
  2. Are the sources of all statistics given? Are graphs and other figures referenced?
  3. Is it peer-reviewed or from a reputable source?
  4. Is the creator of the information qualified to talk about the subject?
Bias or Point of View

Information can be subtly or overtly affected by the creator's point of view or bias. Sometimes this can be identified easily, at other times it may be hidden. Bias is not necessarily a bad thing if you are aware of it and can find information to balance it. Support for either side of a controversy can contain "truth".

Evaluating websites

 

"Evaluating websites" (2013). Gulf Coast State College Library. (Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC licence)

Peer Reviewed Journals