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Literature search: 7. Evaluation and selection

Overall guide for literature search

Main evaluation points: relevance and reliability

Relevance and reliability are the most basic aspects to evaluate and select publications for your research. Both these aspects are more elaborated with the CRAAP-method, here we will give the most important tips for evaluation.


Information is relevant when it helps you to answer your research question, i.e. it fits your research topic.

You evaluate the information on content by first scanning or reading the title, abstract and keywords.


Information is reliable when it comes from a source you can trust regarding authority on your research topic.

You assess the reliability of sources by scanning the source and/or publisher name, author affiliations, reference list and forward citations

Scan and check before you read

  • Title
    • is it really specific for your topic or just vaguely connected?
  • Abstract
    • what are (in short) the applied context, methods used, results achieved and conclusions drawn? (they should all be in there)
  • Keywords
    • again, is the research really specific for your topic or just partly?
  • Publication date
    • does the year fit your scope? Is it too old or too new?
  • Author names and affiliations
  • Journal title and publisher name
  • Reference list
  • Number of citations (if applicable)
    • the number of citations should be measured against the age of the publication

Video tutorials

Evaluating a journal article

How to Read, Take Notes On and Understand Journal Articles