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Evaluating Information


We are referring to an abstract here as a summary of the contents of a book, article, or speech (dictionary).

The purpose of an abstract is to describe the work/article/book without great detail. It should explain the work as briefly and clearly as possible.

Table of Contents

A table of contents, is a list, before the start of a written work, of its chapter or section titles or brief descriptions with their commencing page numbers.

What this table tells us is:

  • What the book really is all about.
  • The scope of the planned book.
  • The focus of the book.
  • Headings indicate author’s style.

Check the References

While References allow us to distinguish original ideas from finding drawn upon, it allows the reader to also follow up in more the ideas mentioned in the work.

Referencing acknowledges the books, articles, websites, and any other material used in the writing of a paper, essay or thesis. 

Further information is available in our reference guide.

Journalism, Fake News and Disinformation

UNESCO have published the guide below on Fake News and recognising disinformation.

Tips for using the right information

How do I know it's academic?


There are some hints that tell you that what you're reading is a high quality academic resource.

  • Peer review: every paper/article submitted to the journal is reviewed by independent experts. Papers are accepted/rejected based on quality.
  • 'periodical' or 'serial' = any publication published regularly (includes magazines, newspapers, newsletters).
  • ‘scholarly’/academic’ journal:  periodical containing research articles, that is peer-reviewed, and aimed at researchers.

Checklist for identifying an academic piece

  • Abstract    The first page of an academic article usually includes an abstract (summary)
  • Length    They are usually substantial (eg  at least 8 pages)
  • References   Extensive reference to past research is a key feature of academic works. References are recorded in footnotes or in a reference list at the end of the article as well as being contained throughout.
  • Author affiliations and qualifications   Does the author hold a position in a university or a recognised research organisation relevant to the discipline?  
  • Appearance and format    Academic articles are text based, and can include tables, figures and charts, but little other illustration or advertising. 
  • Voice   Academic works use the technical  language of the particular discipline. The writer assumes some knowledge on the part of the reader.
  • Publisher    Is the publisher an academic publishing house, university, research organisation, professional body or other recognised authority producing research?
  • Recommendation   Is it a journal recommended by your lecturer, or included in the unit reading list?


How to spot fake news

The CRAAP Test

Use the CRAAP test: stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.

  • Look at your resource
    • Who is the author?
    • What are their credentials?
    • What is their reputation in their field?
    • What date was this created?
  • Examine the content
    • Is the argument organised logically?
    • Is it easy to read?
    • Has it been peer reviewed?
    •  Is the evidence resource or opinion based?
  • Consider the style & approach
    • Who is the target audience?
    • What coverage have they given the subject?
    • What type of source is it primary or secondary?

LIST Tutorial – Sourcing and Evaluating Information

The SMELL Test

In this age of information how can we tell fact from fiction. While CRAAP may be able to eliminate irrelevant information in the traditional formats. It does not always fair well in terms of modern formats.

In the age of FAKE news – SMELL can help you vet the quality of information

S stands for Source. Who is providing the information?
M is for Motivation. Why are they telling me this?
E represents Evidence. What evidence is provided for generalizations?
L is for Logic. Do the facts logically compel the conclusions?
L is for Left out. What’s missing that might change our interpretation of the information?