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BIO323 Research Skills Guide: Evaluate

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Evaluating single study journal articles

Critically reviewing a research article is not just about summarising the article, but evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the article.  It also looks at the value of the research conducted in context of similar research.

The following guides show to structure and write a critical review:

Critiquing research articles - a pdf guide by Flinders University (101 KB)

Structure of a critical review - a guide from the University of NSW

Reviewing a research paper

Evaluating search results and information sources

There is no definitive way to calculate the quality of an information source. However, there are certain indicators that, in combination, can help you determine if the source you are considering is reputable. There are many evaluation methods you can use to assess an information source. Many of these methods apply to journals and journal articles, which will likely be the most common resource type referenced in your research.

In this section we will be learning about:

Evaluation method:      Used to assess:     
CRAP test Journals   
CRAP test Web resources
Peer review Journals

These evaluation methods must be applied with the caution of common sense. No evaluation method is failsafe and it would be imprudent to assess the quality of an information source using only one method. Using these theories in conjunction will enable you to form a rounded opinion on the quality and veracity of most information sources.

Journal Rankings

Journals can be compared to measure their level of influence within the research community. Note that this measure applies at journal level, and not at article level. A high ranked journal may indicate that a journal is well-regarded. 

The SCImago Journal and Country Rank (SJR) database can be used to compare and rank journals.  SCImago does not include every journal - only those journals indexed in the Scopus citation database.

SJR publishes a range of metrics including a quartile chart for each subject category based on a journal's SJR score.

What is a Citation Count?

A citation count is the number of times an article is cited by other articles. In theory, the more an article has been cited by other articles, the more influential and reliable the article is likely (but not guaranteed) to be. Similar to journal impact factor, article citation counts can be found in many journal databases and in Google Scholar.

Citations are also useful for finding additional resources. Use an article's citation list to connect to older material. Some databases also allow you to look at who has cited a particular article, which leads to you studies that are more recent.

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