Evaluating Books, 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.

Choosing and evaluating sources

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

You will need to evaluate the sources you find to make sure that they are reliable, and have information that answers the questions you are researching.


It might help if we explain a few terms first:

  • Peer reviewed – You might also hear this called Refereed. The peer review process usually happens for journal articles. It is a quality check that is done before the article is published. Other experts in that field of research are asked to read the draft articles and evaluate the way they are written and the research they are based on. The author then needs to do more work based on the reviewer’s feedback. Some articles are published after peer review. Some articles are rejected.

  • Scholarly or academic – This just means that it is based on research. Scholarly or academic sources are often created by teachers at universities, but they are also be created by other researchers.

  • Journal – In this case a journal is not a diary. It is the scholarly or academic version of a magazine. Gardening Australia is a magazine. Australian Journal of Botany opens in a new window is a scholarly journal.

  • Author affiliation – This is a formal way of saying that they belong to an institution. If your lecturer wrote an article, his or her author affiliation would be listed as CQUniversity.