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Undergraduate Research Class - Module 3: Source Quality

This LibGuide is for the Undergraduate Research Class - Module 3

What is Peer Review?

You can think of peer review as a "stamp of approval" from academic experts. When an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, you can be certain that experts in the relevant field have read it and, independent of their own particular opinions, verified it meets a high standard of scholarship.

Scholars rely on peer review to ensure that the scholarship they exchange with each other is always based in good research and the established standards of their discipline. 

The peer review system is similar to quality control systems that you see in everyday life. Just as you might be reassured to see a Health Department certificate in the window of a restaurant, the peer-review system provides an efficient standard of trustworthiness in academic scholarship.

See the short video below for a step-by-step explanation of how peer review works.

Primary VS Secondary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

primary source is an original object or document -- the raw material or first-hand information, source material that is closest to what is being studied. Scientific and other peer reviewed journals are excellent sources for primary research.

Primary sources vary by discipline and can include historical and legal documents, eye witness accounts, results of an experiment, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, and art objects.

In the sciences, the results of an experiment or study are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences, so those articles and papers that present the original results are considered primary sources.

secondary source is something written about a primary source. Secondary sources include comments on, interpretations of, or discussions about the original material. You can think of secondary sources as second-hand information. If I tell you something, I am the primary source. If you tell someone else what I told you, you are the secondard source.

Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that evaluate or criticize someone else's original research.

Tertiary sources have the most fluid definition of the three levels of analysis.  Generally speaking, tertiary resources analyze and synthesize information about a given topic.  In other words, tertiary sources are information about information.  They summarize the research on a particular topic in a user-friendly form or list primary and secondary sources. 

What is Source Evaluation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Source evaluation is the process of critically evaluating information in relation to a given purpose in order to determine if it is appropriate for the intended use" (How to do Research). Using high quality resources will ensure that you find the most accurate, up-to-date information available on a topic. Working with reliable sources will allow you to construct your own ideas and research with confidence. 

Whether you are working with research on the worldwide web, or directly through the Kettering University Library, it is important to evaluate each source you use. The librarians at Kettering University have constructed a checklist that can be used to review sources, and provide you with a clear idea of what to look for in a quality source. Please see the sidebar or click here for a copy of the checklist to view online, or print as a PDF to work from as you complete your research! 

Source Evaluation Learning Videos

Source Evaluation Checklist

Source Evaluation Checklist 

 Authority 

 Yes

 Not Sure

 No

 Can you identify and locate the author’s credentials?

 

 

 

 Is the author the original creator of the work? (if not, it may be considered a secondary source)

 

 

 

 Does the author have experience in this area or other published works on this topic?

 

 

 

 Is the publisher a reputable source (scholarly journal, scholarly organization, etc.)?

 

 

 
Currency        
Is there a publication date present?       
 Is the information relevant for the topic covered, based on publication date?      
 Has the author published other recent materials?      
Does the source cite current information in the bibliography?      
Accuracy      
 Does the author present evidence for their work?      
Is the information consistent with other reputable sources on the topic?       
 If new/differing ideas are presented, are they backed up with evidence and sources?      
Do the conclusions match the information presented?      

 Objectivity/Purpose

     

 Is the source free from any attempts to sell/promote an idea or product?

 

 

 

 Is the source independent of any sponsored political or special interest organizations?

 

 

 

 Does the work have a mission statement or clear explanation of purpose?

 

 

 

 Is the source purely educational?

 

 

 

 Privilege/Bias 

     

 Would a different perspective affect the results in a negative way? 

 

 

 

 Does the author work/teach in the field or department they are discussing in the source?

 

 

 

 Is the source free from obvious biases, such as only acknowledging findings that support the author’s perspective?

 

 

 

 Does the source present information in a well-balanced manner, with information from multiple viewpoints?

 

 

 

 Total:

 

To ensure your source is scholarly and reputable, most or all of the boxes should be checked as “yes”. If you are not sure about one of the areas, this is an opportunity to investigate a bit further! If you are unable to identify the answers after further investigation, this may be an indication that it does not meet the requirements and another source should be chosen in its place. 

If you need further assistance in locating or evaluating sources, please feel free to contact the library at library@kettering.edu, or via our live chat on the library homepage, by phone at (810) 762- 9598, or stop by in person and ask to speak with a librarian! 

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