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Evaluating Books, Journals, Journal Articles and Websites  

This guide will provide some tips for evaluating the books, articles and websites you find when researching for an assessment task.
Last Updated: Jun 25, 2014 URL: http://libguides.library.cqu.edu.au/evaluating-resources Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Why use books, journals/journal articles and websites?

Choosing the right sources for your research can be challenging. A variety of options are available, including books, articles and websites. Different sources can provide different types of information:

Books

books

Advantages: Scholarly books contain authoritative information and this can include comprehensive accounts of research or scholarship, historical data, overviews, experts' views on themes/topics. Use a book when you require background information and related research on a topic, when you want to add depth to a research topic or put your topic in context with other important issues.

Disadvantages: Because it can take years, in some instances, to write and publish books, they are not always the best sources for current topic.

 

Journals/Journal Articles

journals

  

 

Advantages:  The articles found in many scholarly journals go through a "peer-review" process. In other words, the articles are checked by academics and other experts. The information is therefore reliable.  As well as containing scholarly information, journal articles can include reports and/or reviews of current research and topic-specific information.

Use scholarly  journals when you need original research on a topic; articles and essays written by scholars or subject experts; factual documented information to reinforce a position; or references lists that point you to other relevant research. Scholarly journals take less time to publish than books, but the peer-review process can be lengthy. 

Disadvantages: Scholarly journals include information of academic interest, so they are not the best sources for general interest topics. Because the peer-review process can be time-consuming, they may not include up-to-the minute news or current event information. 

Websites

computer 

 

 

Advantages: Websites provide up-to-the minute news and information about current events, trends, and controversial topics.  They may also contain government publications such as reports, statistics, legislation and service information; interviews, newspaper articles; research reports; conference/workshop/symposium papers; maps and other types of resources.   

Disadvantages:  Because anyone can publish anything on the web, website information is frequently inaccurate or biased, and sometimes outdated. Only a very limited amount of scholarly information is available on the open web. 

View the video Why can't I just Google? video for information about some of the limitations of using only Google to find information.

 
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