ENGE 2094: Create!: Ideation & Innovation: Evaluating

Peer-Reviewed Research

For your assignments in this, and other, classes, you'll hear a lot about using "peer-reviewed" or "scholarly" articles. These are articles written by scholars, for scholars, that have been through a process of review by other experts in the field before they are published in scholarly journals. This review process helps with quality control, so scholarly articles are generally thought to be high quality. Just because an article has been peer-reviewed doesn't automatically mean that it's high quality, so you'll still want to read carefully to confirm its quality and relevance for your topic. Check out the guidelines and video below for more details on evaluating sources for credibility. 

Information Evaluation Criteria

As you decide which resources to include in your research, here are some things to think about. You'll want to think about these questions for all types of sources; just because you find something in the library doesn't automatically mean it's credible. 

Authority: Who wrote it? What sort of expertise do they have in this area? You don't need to do extensive searching to find out an author's credentials, but seeing credentials listed, such as a degree held or professional affiliation is a good sign. Organizations can also be credible authors. Having no author listed at all is not a good sign for credibility. 

Coverage: Is it relevant to your topic? A source can be credible in many ways, but if it doesn't relate to your topic, there's no point in trying to make it fit. 

Objectivity: While it's difficult to write an article or book without an author's personal biases having an influence, credible authors will acknowledge their bias and seek to provide a balanced picture. An author who does not do this is not automatically discredited, but when you're writing your paper, you should keep their bias in mind. 

Accuracy: Is the information correct? Is it in alignment with other research findings or articles? An article's accuracy can be difficult to judge if you're not an expert in the topic. Always feel free to ask your professor for guidance if you're unsure or feel that something's not accurate about an article. 

Currency: When was your resource produced? Does this matter for your topic? This issue can be particularly relevant in science and engineering. While there's not an automatic date cutoff for all science and engineering topics, you should consider how technology and scientific knowledge have advanced since an article was published to determine whether or not something is still relevant.