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ABP (Architecture, Building and Planning) Study and Research Guide

This guide will help you with your studies in the Bachelor of Design, MSD and beyond.

Peer reviewed / scholarly sources

You may be asked to use peer reviewed journal articles (sometimes called refereed articles or scholarly articles) for your assignment.

Peer reviewed articles: 

  • have been reviewed by other academics ("peers") in the same field prior to publication
  • are considered to be of a high standard
  • are published in peer reviewed journals

Searching for peer reviewed articles

To search for peer reviewed articles, you can:

  1. Use a scholarly database for your search.
  • For example, Scopus and Web of Science are two multi-disciplinarly databases that only search peer reviewed articles.
  1. Limit your database search to peer reviewed articles only. 
  • Most other databases (including Discovery, on the Library homepage) have an option to limit your results to peer reviewed articles.


Determining if an article is peer reviewed

If you have found a useful article and you want to check if the journal it was published in is peer reviewed, you can:

  1. Look up the journal name in UlrichsWeb Global Serials Database, which is a database of all the journals published in the world. 
  • Search for the title of the journal that published the article (don't search for the title of the article).
  • If the journal is peer reviewed it will have a symbol of a referee's striped jumper next to it.

referee jumper icon next to title of journal in UlrichsWeb


  1. Check the journal's official website. 
  • Search online for the official website of the journal (not the article).
  • Most journals will have an 'About' or 'Submissions' page which should tell you if the journal is peer reviewed.

All material submitted to The Journal of Architecture is subject to rigorous peer review using the 'double blind' refreeing process.


Evaluating sources

The C-R-A-P Test can help you determine if a source you have found is reliable and relevant. 

C-R-A-P stands for Currency, Reliability, Authority and Purpose. 

GIF displaying the elements of the CRAP test, Currency, Reliability and Purpose


When was the source created?

  • Look for publication dates for books or journals, and creation dates for webpages. 
  • If research changes rapidly in your field, or you need the most up-to-date research, you need sources that were created more recently. 


Are references or citations provided in the source?

  • What kind of information is included in the source? Does it cite it's data and quotations? 
  • Check the bibliography or list of references. Does the source seem well-researched?


Who is the creator or author?

  • Are they qualified to write about this topic? Do they have a qualification or experience in a relevant field?
  • For books, is the publisher reputable?
  • For journal articles, is the journal a well-known or well-respected journal? Is the article peer-reviewed?
  • For websites, is the website affiliated with a university, government department, or other organisation?


Who is the audience?

  • Is it intended for a general or scholarly audience?
  • Is it biased?
  • Is it trying to sell you something?
For further guidance, watch Resource evaluation (series of videos from LinkedIn Learning)
(Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning / Melbourne School of Design students only - IT support for Accessing LinkedIn Learning)

Evaluating ideas

You are expected to critically analyse the sources you use, rather than simply describe the ideas of others.

This involves identifying the strengths and limitations of the arguments and evidence within the sources you read, and developing your own thoughts about the content of texts. 

You can start to evaluate ideas by asking yourself these questions as you read:

  • How do the ideas link to other concepts I'm learning about?
  • What are my own values and bias in relation to the topic?
  • Does the author's view align with my own?
  • Can the assumptions the author makes be challenged? 
  • Why and how do different writers interpret the same events, data or evidence differently?
  • Based on my knowledge and experience, what do I think about the author's ideas, argument and language?

Gif displaying the steps for evaluatiing a document: purpose, approach and structure

For a more guidance you can use to start evaluating your sources, refer to How to read effectively and critically

Evaluating designs

If you need to evaluate aspects of the built environment, you may need to adapt the questions you ask yourself as you look at images, buildings or sites.

Instead of 'author': think architect, designer, planner or builder. 

  • What were the architects trying to do?
  • Why is the design important?
  • Does the design achieve its purpose?
  • What issues arise as a result of planning choices?
  • What relevance does this building have to the context of my research?
  • Who is expected to use this public space?

example of evaluating a design for a library information desk. Steps  include looking at the concept, design drivers, function, location and users, form, aesthetic, structure, fitness of the design, relevance.

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