Quality - Information sources
Using appropriate and relevant information sources will help to strengthen the quality of your knowledge and work. To find good quality academic information it is useful to know the different information sources available to you and their advantages and disadvantages.
As you are doing your research, make sure you evaluate the quality and usefulness of the sources you consult. To do this, have a think about some key quality criteria that will help you work out if the source is a good one to use.
Is it recent? If not, does that impact on how relevant the information is to your own work? This will vary according to your subject; some areas of research are more fast-moving than others.
· When was it published?
· Can you easily find this information?
A source can be reliable, objective and of a generally high quality, but if it's not relevant to your work then there's no point in using it. Does it illustrate a point you are making, or provide a counter-argument? It needs to be relevant in some way to the rest of your research to be worth using.
· Has your source been officially published?
· Has it been reviewed (by a publisher or peer-reviewed for articles)?
· Is the content backed up with references to other sources that support it?
Does the information in the source match with other sources you have read? If you find a source that is dramatically different from your other readings, this may indicate a bias.
· Who wrote it? What is their background and qualifications?
· Do you trust that they are qualified to write about the topic?
Was the source created to persuade, sell, entertain, inform, or for another purpose? Does the purpose of the source influence the objectivity of the information?
· Does the author want to share research or contribute to the understanding of a topic?
· Is it trying to sell you a point of view or product (and if so, you will need to be aware of this if you do use it in your research)?