Human Development Research Resources: Evaluating Information

This site contains guidance for conducting Human Development research, from introductory courses through research methods and capstone courses.

What's in a results list?

Credible but not peer-reviewed

It's easy to think that the only credible resources are those that are peer reviewed, but that's not the case. Not all the information that you need to find will be available in peer-reviewed publications. But how can you tell if something is credible even if it's not peer-reviewed? Consider the following elements: 

  • Who wrote or produced the content? As you consider the author of the content, look for information about their credentials, and ask yourself whether the author is qualified to write about the topic. Remember also that organizations can be listed as authors as well as people, and it's worth considering whether that organization is qualified to write about the topic. 
  • When was the content published? While some sources are considered foundational to a field, regardless of when they were published, some information is time-sensitive, especially when it comes to statistics or some health information. You wouldn't want to use data from the early 1990s if what you really need is data from the 2010s. 
  • What is the author's bias? While it's nearly impossible for authors to keep all biases out of their writing, it's important to consider how the author's bias is affecting the information they provide and make note of that bias or perspective as you use the source in your own research. 

There's no such thing as an objectively good or objectively bad source - it all depends on what your purpose is and how you plan to use the source.