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MHP214 Research Skills Guide: Evaluate - are your sources scholarly?

This guide is designed to help you with your assessments in MHP214.

Evaluating information

After you have located an information resource, you need to evaluate whether it is credible and scholarly source suitable for use in your assessment. For MHP214 Assessment 2, you need to support the findings of your report with a minimum of 7 scholarly resources.

To refresh your memory on evaluating the quality of articles and other resources, watch the videos below and take the quiz to test your knowledge.

Checking for peer review

Peer-review is a key indicator of credibility and reliability for academic journals, as they have been through a formal approval process by editors and subject specialists. The process aims to ensure that articles published in the journal are accurate, well-researched and contribute to the body of knowledge in that field.

The best place to confirm the peer-reviewed status of a journal is Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory. While most databases do offer a peer-review limiter, you cannot always rely on the the information about peer-reviewed status to be current or accurate. 

You can access Ulrichsweb from the Library's list of U-databases.

To check if an article comes from a peer reviewed journal:

  • Search for the journal title (not the article title) or the journal ISSN
  • Locate the journal on the results list (for multiple journals with the same name, look for the journal's ISSN in the article record - the ISSN is a unique number assigned to each journal)
  • If there is a referee's jumper () in the column on the left it means the journal (and therefore the article) is peer reviewed. In the United States of America they refer to the peer review process as refereeing, hence the referee's jumper.

Note that only the scholarly articles in a peer-reviewed journal will have been peer-reviewed. Other documents such as book reviews and opinion pieces will not have been peer-reviewed, and would not be considered "academic quality".

Test your knowledge

The CRAP test

You can use the CRAP test (short for Currency, Reliability, Accuracy and Purpose) to evaluate most types of information resource, including journal articles, books and websites. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not your resource meets the criteria for currency, reliability, authority and purpose:

Currency

  • When was it written?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • For web resources check when the page was last updated and if included links still work

Reliability

  • Is the source reputable? Is the journal peer-reviewed, or is the book published by an academic or professional press?
  • Is the content the author's opinion or have they offered evidence to support their argument?
  • Have they provided references to reputable resources?
  • For web resources look for an About Us to give you more information about the organisation providing the information.

Authority

  • Who is the creator/author?
  • Are they qualified to write about this topic?
  • Are there any experts in the field that you should look up?
  • For web resources, remember anyone can publish anything on the internet. Look for a Contacts page and avoid anonymous websites.

Purpose

  • Is this fact or opinion?
  • Is it biased?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the author trying to sell you something?

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