Skip to Main Content

Research Essentials

Level up your researching, reading and writing skills with these essential tips

Choosing the right resources will help highlight your research skills and save you time. With so many resources available online, how do you know what is the 'right' resource? 

This section will give you tips to help evaluate the quality of the resources you have found: 

   Identifying scholarly sources

   PROMPT: 5 checks for quality

   What are scholarly / peer reviewed sources? 

Scholarly information is:

  • evidence-based

  • well-researched

  • has undergone rigorous review by experts in that respective field.

 

Here are examples of types of scholarly information you might encounter in your research:

 

These may include books, peer-reviewed journals, maps, monographs, images, audio-visual resources and other materials in different formats.

The term ‘scholarly information’ also refers to other primary sources typically collected by a library, museum or archive such as artefacts, personal letters and business records.

These could include course notes, presentation slides, compilations of selected readings for a particular subject, lecture recordings, as well as materials accessed through the Learning Management System (LMS).

These may include data collected from scientific instrumentation and laboratory work, information collected from surveys and interviews, records of meetings and conversations between collaboration partners, models, plans or images created in the course of design, architectural or ethnographic research.

This may also refer to papers, chapters, monographs, articles, letters, presentations, posters, demonstrations and speeches, visualisations of large datasets, models, web sites and multimedia objects. Information produced for the purposes of community engagement can be considered a subset of this category.

 

What are peer-reviewed or refereed articles?
  • 'Refereed' or 'peer-reviewed' journal articles must be evaluated by other experts in the same research field before they are accepted for publication. These articles are considered to be of high academic quality. 

 

How can you find peer-reviewed articles?
  • Discovery has an option to just search for peer-reviewed journal articles in the left menu

‚ÄčCheckboxes in Discovery's left-hand menu showing the peer reviewed journals option highlighted

  • You can also use a database that only searches peer reviewed sources, like Scopus or Web of Science.
   How to evaluate your resources

Keep in mind: Not all sources are created equal
Choosing the right resources to use can make a significant difference to the quality of your assignment. 

While you are searching for resources, put them to the test by using the PROMPT (Presentation, Relevance, Objectivity, Method, Provenance, Timeliness) set of criteria below to ensure you are using quality resources that will help answer your assignment question. 


Good resources are presented in such a way that extracting the information from it is as simple and straightforward as possible. Ask yourself: Is the information presented clearly? Can I find what I need easily? Does the resource use formal or informal language?

Scan a particular resource quickly and consider whether the information provided contains specific details pertinent to your research. Determine whether the resource contains useful information about the time period, geographic area, or group of people you are researching.

It is important to scrutinise whether the source is authentic and credible. Consider the perspective from which the author of the resource is writing about the issue, and ask whether:

  • the author is stating a fact or expressing an opinion

  • the author has vested interests in expressing a particular point of view. For example, are they selling a product or being sponsored?

  • the language used is emotive.

It is important to consider what kind of method the author has used in arriving at their conclusion. In scientific research, for example, it may be important to consider aspects of the experimental design, such as sample sizes and control groups that were used.

  • How was the data collected and analysed?

  • Were these methods appropriate for the type of research involved?

Good resources come from authoritative sources. It is therefore important to determine who authored the resource before deciding to use them in your research.

  • Is the source attributed properly? Can you clearly identify the author?

  • Is the author an expert in their field or subject area?

  • If the resource was created by an organisation, what kind are they (e.g. commercial, educational, government etc.)? Are they well established?

  • Has the source undergone an editorial or peer review process?

Before using a particular resource, it is important to be aware of whether it still reflects current thinking in your field of study. Doing so will allow you to incorporate pertinent information in your assignment.

  • When was it published?

  • Is the information corroborated by other sources?