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Monash College : Evaluating information

A guide to library resources and services for Monash College staff and students.

Evaluating information

Now that you have searched and found information, is it of high quality?

Evaluating websites

Academic sources are the best

In researching for essays and other academic assignment tasks, you will usually be looking for relevant information in academic sources. This section explains what an academic source is, and how to identify one, as well as the related concept of peer review.

Academic (or scholarly)
The quality of a work of writing which seeks to clarify, explain and extend concepts belonging to the topic and discipline. An equivalent term is “scholarly”.  Academic works include: journal articles, monographs, books of edited readings, conference papers, working papers and theses.

Peer reviewed (or refereed) articles
Your lecturers will often require that in assignments you use information from academic journal articles that are peer reviewed (an alternative term is “refereed”). Watch this Quick guide to Peer review.

If you are unsure whether a particular journal is peer-reviewed/refereed, check the Ulrichsweb database at the link below or ask the Library.

How to tell if your source is academic

What are non-academic works?

Articles from these publications, or with the following characteristics, are often NOT academic:

  • newspapers, newsletters 
  • magazines and trade journals
  • journals published weekly or more frequently (although significant exceptions include Nature and Science)
  • very short articles (eg one or two pages)
  • Industry and company reports, statistics
  • articles that have no bibliography or reference list
  • Textbooks are usually not considered to be academic

It is often appropriate and necessary to also refer to non-academic publications in an assignment - always be guided by the set requirements for the particular assignment or, if in doubt, ask your teacher.