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NRS420 Research Skills Guide: Evaluate & Appraise

Evaluation and critical appraisal

So, by now you've found articles, grey literature, and perhaps some web resources. As always, how can you tell whether your resources are suitable for your assessment? In this instance you are specifically required to "critically analyse these policies..."

General evaluation of resources

  • check out the videos below to pick up strategies to evaluate Library resources, web resources and ensure your journal articles are peer-reviewed.
  • remember to apply the CRAP test (below), especially for web resources

Grey Literature

Critical Appraisal of journal articles & studies

  • This is a bit more of a complex topic and your are referred to a detailed explanation in the NRS531 Library Guide

Evaluate information

Use the CRAP test to evaluate any resources you want to use in your assessments.

Criteria Ask Yourself Example
Currency
  • When was the information published?
  • Does currency matter for this topic?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • When was the webpage last updated?

History of educational theories - older resources may be appropriate

vs

Social media in education -  older resources may not be appropriate

Reliability
  • Who published the information?
  • Is the source reputable? Is it peer reviewed?
  • Does the creator provide references and are those references credible?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

A satirical news website (e.g. Betoota Advocate)

vs

A not for profit media group sourcing content from academics and researchers (e.g. The Conversation)

Authority
  • Who is the creator or author? Sources without an author may be less credible
  • What are their qualifications, affiliations and experience?
  • Are they an expert in the field?

An article written by a self-appointed expert that appears on a blog

vs

A peer reviewed article written by a team of university academics

Purpose
  • Why was the information published and who is the intended audience?
  • Is the creator trying to sell, inform, entertain, persuade?
  • Is it fact or opinion?
  • Is it biased or balanced?

A webpage on diabetes from a pharmacy company that produces drugs to treat diabetes. They may have a vested interest.

vs

Diabetes information from a government website such as Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW). They have no vested interest.

Find Peer reviewed articles

Articles published in peer reviewed or refereed journals have been through a formal approval process. This process is intended to ensure that the article is:

  • accurate
  • well-researched
  • contributing to the body of knowledge in the field

To find peer reviewed articles:

  • Select to show only peer reviewed journals in Primo Search
  • Limit to peer reviewed or scholarly journals in journal databases

However, as these options are just an indication of peer review status the definitive way to find out if your article has been peer reviewed is to use Ulrichsweb Global Periodicals Directory.

Evaluate internet resources

The website domain provides you a hint as to the reliability of the website at which you are looking.

.edu (educational institution)

.gov (government)

These are more likely to be reliable and unbiased.

.org (non-profit organisation)

.asn (non-commercial organisation)

Sometimes these organisations may show a bias toward one side of a topic.

.com (commercial site)

.net (network)

Critically evaluate these sites as they may be unreliable.

 

evaluating information

Peer Review

Using the Internet