How do I choose which sources to use?
Assess information quickly by:
- reading the contents pages
- skimming the indexes
- reading the abstract
There is a lot of great information on the internet but not all sources are credible - how do you know which ones to trust and which ones to disregard?
Tips to help you assess and select good information
There are many ways to assess the quality of sources. For a guide to what to look for, see What is good information?.
Look through the contents or index pages
These give you an idea of what a book or report covers, and a clue as to whether it might be useful.
Read the executive summary
The executive summary gives an overview of a report, outlining what is covered. If the contents of the report are useful, go on to read it - don’t just rely on the summary.
Read the abstract
Shorter than an executive summary, an abstract can give you a flavour of the full document before you read it.
Read articles or papers
When choosing your sources it is important to read through articles and papers. For scientific papers this can be quite a task but here is some advice to help you: how to read scientific papers.
See also Michael Fosmire (2016) How to Read a Scientific Paper. Available at: https://www.lib.purdue.edu/help/tutorials/scientific-paper [Date accessed: September 2016]
Look for evidence
Critical thinking and evaluation techniques will help you select good quality information.
When selecting your sources it is important to choose ones that provide credible evidence. Read information with a critical eye, asking where the evidence is and looking at the methodology used. For good advice on looking at evidence, see this video by Dr Kat Arney on YouTube.