Evaluating literature

While you are searching for relevant information about your topic you will need to think about the accuracy of the information, whether the information is from a reputable source, whether it is objective and current. The basic criteria for assessing information and questions you might want to think about are listed below. 

Accuracy        

  • Is the information reliable?
  • Is the information error-free?
  • Is the information based on proven facts?
  • Can the information be verified against other reliable sources?

Authority       

  • Who is the author?
  • Does he or she have the qualifications to speak/write on that topic?
  • Is the author affiliated with a reputable university or organization in this subject field?
  • Is the source peer reviewed or refereed?

Objectivity     

  • What is the intended purpose of the information?
  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Is the information biased?

Currency        

  • When was the information published?
  • Is the information current or out-dated?
  • Does currency matter in this topic?

Coverage        

  • Does the information covered meet your information needs?
  • Does it provide basic or in depth coverage

Further Reading:

Pyrczak, F. & Randall R. (2017) Evaluating Research in Academic Journals : A Practical Guide to Realistic Evaluation. Sixth edition. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.

Critical appraisal or critiquing the literature

Reading critically

The Sage Research Methods Online database (SRMO) is a good source of full text electronic Books, chapters, and articles on a range of research methodologies.  It includes a wide range of items in relation to literature review processes, and importantly how to read critically.

Examples are:

Goodwyn, A. & Stables, A. W. (2004). Learning to Read Critically: Learning to read critically in language and literacy : SAGE Publications Ltd doi: 10.4135/9781849209410

Quinton, S. & Smallbone, T. (2006). How to read critically. In Sage Study Skills: Postgraduate research in business (pp. 81-96). : SAGE Publications Ltd doi: 10.4135/9781849209564.n6

Evaluating Sources - training tutorials and videos