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Primary and Secondary evidence
Different types of resources may provide different perspectives - for example, a review may give you an idea of the literature on the topic, or the range of studies that have been carried out.
Primary sources of information include: Books or journal articles writing about or reporting on original research and surveys; autobiographies; statistics; news articles reporting an event.
Secondary sources of information include: Books or journals discussing the findings of others; biographies; reviews.
If an article has been peer-reviewed, academic experts from the same field as the author of the work have read and reviewed the material, and assessed whether it is suitable for publication. This maintains standards of quality and credibility. It may also be known as refereeing.
Compare and Evaluate Information
Is it what you need? Is it quality information? Is it appropriate and relevant? Current? Accurate and reliable? What bias does it have? What about peer-review? Coverage and content? Authority and the author's sources used?
- Accuracy: Can you check the facts? Is there additional information such as data, tables, and references?
- Authority: Is the author a qualified professional in the field? Are they affiliated to a university or institution?
- Coverage: Is the subject covered in depth? Who is the intended audience – academics, students, the public?
- Currency: How up to date is the information?
- Evidence: Check the author’s references.
- Relevance: Is it what you need? Look at the introduction / abstract / summary – what is it mainly about?
- Reliability: What methodology was used? Has it been peer-reviewed?
- Validity: Is it opinion, or arguments based on fact? Does it have a bias? What sources have been used?
Evaluating information guidance- printable
Evaluating a Website
Think about these sorts of questions:
- Who is responsible for it?
- Where is it from? (Which country /organisation/ individual?)
- When was it last updated?
Use this checklist as a guide to help you evaluate a website.