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Evaluating sources: Get going


Before you use the sources you have found their relevance and scientific nature should be evaluated. In this Libguide we will offer you several methods and tools.

Why evaluate sources?

It is obvious that you should evaluate the relevance of your sourcces. You evaluate their scientific nature to increase the reliability of your own piece. Indirectly reliability is also determined by the kind of sources you use. If the scholarly nature of your sources is beyond doubt, your paper itself will less likely be doubted.

Two rules of thumb in using sources

  1. Peer review: controle door wetenschappersUse books written by scholars and scientists (is often mentioned in the book), preferably published by scientific publishers
  2. Choose journal articles from peer reviewed journals over those in non-peer reviewed journals.

If you use other sources, it is extra important to check the scholarly level yourself. Of course, your source needs to be meaningful and relevant, above all.

For the complete list of all journals BUAS has access to, click here

When to use non-scientific sources?

In science it is not done to categorically exclude certain kinds of sources. Instead, always consider what importance you attach to the sources in your paper. You determine if, and then how, you are going to use them.

Primary sources such as statistics, diaries, archive records, maps etc. are not scientific, but they can be very well used as documentation, as factual material or as an object of study.

Non-scientific articles, newsmagazines, newspapers, weblogs etc. you only use occasionally in a scholarly paper, for instance to give an impression of the popular debate on a subject, to indicate its social relevance or show how the subject is treated in the news.

Reputable scholarly journals also publish articles containing references to non-scholalrly sources

Be careful when using non-scholarly sources

In the case of non-scholarly sources (newspapers, blogs, websites, reports etc) we advise you to:

  1. Use only sources of which the author or responsible organisation is well-known
  2. Use only sources of which you know the publication date or when the source was updated. Be careful with webpages with automatic date stamping, making it look as if the information is always up to date
  3. Judge the level of the sources by comparing them, look at the use of language, the level of argumentation and the literature references

Even a diamond is tried ad measuredOn the basis of your evaluation of the scholarly level, determine how much importance you attach to the insights from the work in your own paper. The first few times you will have to pay explicit attention to this matter, in particular if you are not familiar with the subject. During the course of your studies, you will often know intuitively how to separate the wheat from the chaff.