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Evaluate what you've found

Your online guide to finding resources for your research

Evaluate what you've found

Once you have found some interesting sources to use in your research, it's important that you evaluate each of them. This means deciding whether they are trustworthy, reliable and of good enough quality for an academic assignment.

The questions below will help you to determine whether a source should be considered trustworthy.

Who?

What should you look out for?

Who are the authors? Individuals? Experts? Companies?

Who published it?

Why is this important?

Look out for bias and opinion pieces e.g. a company report that doesn't acknowledge the poor working conditions of its employees.

When?

What should you look out for?

When was it published? Recent? Dated?

Why is this important?

On the whole you will need the most current information to answer your question.

How?

What should you look out for?

How was the research conducted?

Is it representative?

How can you use it to answer your need?

Why is this important?

If it’s a piece of research, how did they conduct it? Were the method and sample size appropriate and representative?

Will it support points you are making?

What?

What should you look out for?

What is the information?

Is it useful to your project?

Why is this important?

It needs to relate to your question – try to keep a focus on the question not just the general topic.

Where?

What should you look out for?

Where did you find the information: website, blog, book, journal or database?

Where was the research conducted?

Why is this important?

Always try to get your information from reputable sources e.g. textbooks, journals. Research conduced in other countries may not be relevant.

Why?

What should you look out for?

Why was it written?

What are the motivations behind it?

Why is this important?

Look out for bias – see also ‘Who?’