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University of Newcastle Library guides

Research Help for International Students: Why evaluate?

Guide to assist international students find information for assignments.

Why evaluate?

There is an incredible amount of information available on any topic you can think of.  The challenge is sifting through the mountains of information to identify the sources that are reliable and appropriate for your assignments.

Finding these sources requires time and critical evaluation.  Understanding how to evaluate both print and electronic information makes it easier to choose better sources that will improve your marks.

Let's look at four common sources of information below.

Books
  • Editors review and select books for publication
  • Libraries select books based on published reviews and teaching/research needs
Journal articles
  • Editors review and select articles for publication
  • Scholarly journals undergo an intensive selection process known as peer review
Newspapers
  • Editors commission and select content, often based on commercial aspects
  • Often heavily opinionated, driven by the target audience
Web content
  • Anyone can create and publish on the web
  • Search engines can display selective results based on popularity rather than quality

The type of research you are doing will determine how closely your sources should be examined.

Remember that academic assignments will always require accurate, appropriate, and documented sources of information, so always be more critical when looking at these sources.

So, how can we assess whether a source is suitable?