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GEO204 Research Skills Guide: Evaluate

Evaluating information

Using credible information will improve the quality of your assessment and may result in better marks, but how can you tell whether the resources you've found are credible and suitable for your assessment? Have you been asked to use peer reviewed or refereed articles? Are you using authoritative websites?

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.

The information below (and in the attached peer review tab) will help you evaluate the information you find, in books, journal articles, or online to make sure it’s reliable.

 

Evaluation Method Used to Access
CRAP test Any resource type
Peer Review Journals, journal articles

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 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.

Test your knowledge

Peer review

Peer Review Activity

You are required to use peer reviewed articles for your assessment task.

Open the Ulrichsweb database and check whether the articles you have found are from peer reviewed journals.

Remember to search using the journal title, not the article title.

Evaluating information

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.