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3.3.1 Reliability of the source

Evaluate your information
3.1 Assess your search results
3.2 Revise your search strategy
3.3 Evaluate your resources
  * 3.3.1 Reliability of the source
  3.3.2 Validity
  3.3.3 Accuracy
  3.3.4 Authority of the author
  3.3.5 Timeliness
  3.3.6 Point of view
3.3.7 Evaluate a Web site
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The authority and credibility of the information is established by the credentials of the author(s) and the publication. The quality of information may vary according to the reliability of its source.

Is the journal scholarly or refereed?

Articles can be published in a variety of journals, such as refereed journals, scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines or newspapers. The differences between these types of publications is discussed in 1.7.3. Journals.

Refereed and scholarly journals have the most academic credibility. Use Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to check if the journal title is refereed or peer-reviewed.

View a demonstration of keyword searchingView the following video on determining whether a journal is refereed.

Who is the publisher?

Although publication by a reputable publisher does not guarantee quality, it does mean that the publisher has high regard for the work.

Commercial publishers may let profit projections influence their publication decisions.

When published by a university press (e.g. Oxford University Press) the content is more likely to be scholarly.

In the case of a Web page you can get a reasonable idea of the publisher of a Web page by looking at the domain name within the URL.

A domain name usually consists of four domains or parts:

The host name (www), the organisation (qut), the organisation type (edu) and the country (au) are identified in the domain name:


The organisation usually indicates the publisher.

Organisation Type

The organisation type can be particularly useful for determining the authority of a site. The main organisation types include:

Domain Type Example
.com commerical Sony Australia
.edu educational Edith Cowan University
.ac academic University of Oxford
.gov government Western Australian Government
.org organisation American Psychological Association
.net network organisation American Society for Precision Engineering

However, some domain names do not always reflect the true nature of the organisation and cannot be considered the definitive authentication of a site. Validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness and point of view also need to be evaluated.

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 Last modified Friday, 18-Mar-2011 13:09:41 AWST
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