Evaluating materials for inclusion as a scientific reference:
Resources in psychology are critical to the many assignments in a
variety of classes. Therefore, you should use some general criteria for
evaluation of resources. As a general rule, journal articles are your most
important resource, followed by books, and lastly reputable internet
sites. The following information should serve as a general guide for
evaluation of the sources. For a more thorough set of evaluation
criteria see How To
Critically Analyze Information Sources.
Credibility of a journal should be considered when you are selecting
references. First it is important to distinguish between a scholarly
journal and a popular magazine. If you are unclear about this
distinction, please refer to the library page
is a Scholarly Journal? As a general rule, you will want to select
an article that has statistics. In other words, if it does not have
statistical results, it probably will not count as one of the minimum
number of reference materials.
Once you have selected a scholarly journal, it is important to
realize that not all journals are created equal. If the articles
contained in the journal have undergone the peer review process, they
are considered to have more credibility.
Scientific books are useful for learning about background and the
theory associated with your topic. Books are usually used to provide you
with a more thorough understanding of complex theory or as a general
reference. Although the date of publication may seem important, some
older texts are seen as seminal works, and they are sometimes the most
important theoretical work in the area. In addition to the publication
date, it is important to note who published the text. Information about
publishers can be found in Books in Print. Several reference resources
can be accessed through your librarianís reference desk.
Internet resources are more difficult to evaluate with respect to
credibility. Anybody can create a web page! Although the information may
be in print, and may look valid, it may not be accurate. If you would
like to consider how to evaluate web sites, be sure to use the
information in Evaluating Web-based Information.