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ELISE | Informing your studies tutorial: Evaluating resources


Quiz question There may be a quiz question related to the information on this page.

Scholarly or popular?

Scholarly journals:

  • written for an academic audience
  • generally, but not always peer-reviewed
  • more scholarly or technical language
  • comprehensive citations and references
  • research articles generally longer
  • often published by a society or institute  

Popular magazines:

  • aimed at a general audience
  • simple, everyday language
  • articles and information are usually brief
  • generally don't include bibliographies

Evaluating resources

Carefully evaluate the resources you select for your assignments. This will help you to determine their quality and decide whether they will be appropriate for your purposes.

Use the following criteria to evaluate resources:


  • covers important issues in enough depth
  • uses an appropriate level of language, e.g. is it too basic or too specialised
  • is the source primary or secondary, e.g. is it an original account, an analysis or an interpretation of original material


  • check the date of publication, as some topics require recent information
  • when was the web page last updated?


  • who is the author? check for an author's credentials, e.g. their qualifications
  • is the website creator stated, who are they? Look for information about an organisation 
  • who is the publisher? Is information about them readily available?
  • peer-reviewed or refereed journals indicate that articles are scholarly
  • blogs generally present a personal viewpoint


  • is there author bias, suggesting less credibility? What is the writer's angle?
  • are facts or statistics from a reliable source, e.g. Australian Bureau of Statistics?
  • use of emotive language indicates the information is opinion rather than fact
  • URL domain, e.g. .gov .edu .com, indicates a government site, an educational body or a commercial organisation

Demonstrating your learning

When reviewing material for use in your assignments, select items based on evaluation guidelines such as those outlined above.

Your selections will: 

  • demonstrate your learning to your lecturer
  • convey your understanding and interpretation of important ideas or concepts in your discipline.