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Tertiary Access Course Guide: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating sources

The credibility of your assignment rests on the credibility of the resources you have used in it to support your arguments. Before you include a resource in your assignment you will need to evaluate it to consider if it is appropriate for a university level assignment and relevant for your topic.

See the Evaluating Sources guide for more information on how to evaluate sources, and how to identify peer-reviewed and scholarly sources.

Test your skills in this interactive tutorial - Scholarly or Not?

How to recognise a scholarly book

Scholarly book

This video explains how to recognise a scholarly book.



What makes a journal article scholarly?

A journal (also known as periodical or serial) contains a number of scholarly articles written by different authors. Journals are published at regular intervals throughout the year e.g monthly, quarterly and are available in both print and online formats.

Scholarly articles, also called academic articles, are intended for other experts and scholars, rather than the general public.

It's important to note that scholarly journals also publish:

  • editorials
  • book and film reviews
  • letters
  • news articles
  • commentaries

These are not considered to be scholarly articles. Make sure you look for some other clues before deciding that you're looking at a scholarly article. 

This video shows how to identify a scholarly article

If you've been asked to find peer reviewed research, you need to know what a peer reviewed research article looks like.

An academic article, also called a scholarly article, is an article written by an expert in an academic or professional field. These articles are intended for other experts and scholars, rather than the general public. There are several ways to determine whether an article is scholarly. While none of these are hard-and-fast rules, they can be useful clues:

  • The article is written by researcher(s), professional(s) or other expert(s).
  • The article commonly has more than one author (this isn't always true).
  • The article appears in an academic journal rather than a magazine or newspaper (but, keep in mind that not everything in an academic journal is a peer reviewed article).
  • The article is of significant length (usually over five pages).
  • The article includes a substantial bibliography or reference list.
  • The article is peer reviewed.
  • The article presents original research or analysis of a topic.
  • The article uses technical or expert-level language.



Re-used with permission thanks to Brooke Williams, Research & Instruction Services Librarian, Communication Studies & School of Journalism, Snell Library, Northeastern University.

What makes a web page credible?

Use the CRAAP checklist! Information from the web has to meet a higher standard before you use it in an assignment. Why? It is very easy to put information on the web. Information is not always verified or subject to any kind of peer review process.

This short video looks at evaluating web pages using the CRAAP test.


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