How to evaluate the reliability of the literature source?

One of the first steps in starting writing a writing job should be the collection and analysis of the necessary information. If there is a lot of information on a topical topic (at first glance), you should not be happy at once. It is possible that not all sources are reliable and suitable for writing course, bachelor or master theses. How to distinguish a reliable source of information from an untrustworthy one?

It is also part of our writer’s consultants’ daily routine: we are constantly looking for the necessary literature, analyzing scientific sources, performing theoretical analysis, as well as providing advice on both the list of literature and other questions related to your writing. So we can also advise on this.

When writing the final paper, it is important to understand the requirements for the text of the scientific style. Such texts are subject to significantly higher standards than ordinary essays – even in some areas, journalists are less constrained. Once you understand what text you are expecting, you will understand and search for the texts you are relying on. If you support your arguments with unreliable sources of information, you will not be taken seriously by the academic community.

First of all, pay attention to where the source is published.

Is the text published in a scientific journal, in a university-published periodical or in another publication by a research-related institution? It is unlikely that articles in peer-reviewed publications will be scientifically unreliable. Such articles are written by professionals in their field to familiarize the community concerned with new research, material discovered, or new “angles of approach”. Such texts are usually reviewed by sources used by other scientists who have evaluated the methodological approaches chosen for the study and confirmed that the article meets the requirements for academic text.

You can search for robust research-based final thesis work in university databases that also include digitized scientific journals and individual research. Usually, they can only be accessed by paying a fee or using a university access.

You can find the information you need today in various ways.

However, articles that are found on the Internet should be used with extreme caution: texts can be placed (actually) on any portal. If an article found on the Internet is surrounded by foreign ads, pop-ups, page design cheap and poor, the text posted on such a website will almost certainly not be reliable. Of course, it is not advisable to have full confidence and the information provided on trusted websites.

In the information technology age, more and more scientific journals are being digitized to become accessible to a wider audience. So, one should pay attention to what the article published online. If the information is published on a public agency page, it is likely to be reliable. In other cases, it should be checked which institution or organization publishes the substance. A text published by a private person will not be a reliable source, but, for example, material published by the Association of Judges of the Republic of Lithuania may be used for writing a Bachelor’s thesis. Organizations fighting for the rights of minorities or animals tend to publish information that confirms the meaning of their existence and corresponds to the idea. Therefore, such publications should not be trusted. On the web portals, we can, of course, also find usable materials. For example, our website often publishes articles based on research by professional historians on various historical topics. Such articles can be quoted in the final thesis by reference to an interactive source. When using news feeds, please be aware that the portal has not been compromised, providing unverified or unjustified information. Lithuanian news agency ELTA usually provides quality knowledge. However, it is worth examining each case carefully.

No self-respecting student from the source of information will indicate “Wikipedia” (unless you are researching Wikipedia yourself). The online encyclopedia is anonymous and often edited. However, some Wikipedia articles provide links to a source of information that may be useful for your writing. Once you have the right publication, you will be able to evaluate its quality and reliability and quote it. This is how you deal with all the articles you find on the Internet. However, if the information you have found is not validated in the scientific literature, i.e. if you find it only in one of the scientific publications or portals of doubt, do not use such information.

Don’t trust yourself.

If the research was published by the author himself, his ideas were not convinced by any publishing company to publish it. This means that such research lacks scientific validity. So, never quote the authors who publicize themselves. Also, avoid using textbooks or other reference literature. It can only be used to show the general context.

Separate scientific literature from non-scientific. The purpose of scientific publications is to inform. They are developing new ideas, challenging old ones, offering new sources and “angles of approach”. Some of the books written on scientific topics are designed to engage the general public on a particular topic, rather than informing the academic community. Scientific literature is usually published by the publishing houses of a university or a related institution. Private publishing houses usually provide literature for the general public. The easiest way to distinguish between scientific and non-scientific literature. The academic text is based on the statement of the source, and the study is crowned by a broad list of sources and literature. You will not find links in non-scientific literature. Thus, in the theoretical part of the bachelor’s or master’s thesis, you give priority to academic literature.

Don’t use outdated literature.

Of course, there are some works released several decades ago where the ideas are not outdated, and the modern authors are not able to surpass that publication. However, there are not many such studies, and professionals in the field know them all. Find out if there is no newer literature relevant to your writing work. So, citing a book published 10 years ago, please note that the information it contains is not out of date, and theories are denied. Also note the number of times the book was handed over. If a new, revised edition comes out regularly, then the book is still relevant. In this case, use the latest version of the book in the final work.

Evaluate the reputation of the author of the article or book.

In each field of research, there are certain figures whose authority is beyond doubt. For example, in historical-sociological research, you can always quote Max Weber or Fernand Bugel during elitology research – Vilfred Pareto. Using their works will demonstrate your scientific excellence and knowledge of the subject. As for contemporary authors, pay attention to the reputation of a well-known scientist. Despite the fact that his name is well-known, look into the context in which he is remembered. There are always scientists who create unreasonable theories or speculate on the study material. What scientific institution does the author represent? What is his research area and does the published article fall into it? What did the author have previously published and how was it met in the academic community? Usually someone reviews a scientific work; such reviews appear online or in special publications of the university (or other scientific institution). It would be worthwhile to review all reviews of the books used in the study. The reviewer will notice if any part of the study or theory raises doubts and you will be able to evaluate the publication accordingly. Using the website you can check the quotation of Lithuanian research works. Depending on how many times the article has been quoted and the people who quoted it, you can judge the credibility of the text and whether it should be included in your list of bachelor, master or other literature.

See what sources the author of a book or article is referring to.

Evaluate their authority and credibility. Find out about the circumstances of the text. Please note that the author clearly does not promote any political parties or currents, is not biased, does not defend his subjective attitude, his research is not financed by the persons or organizations concerned. For example, British Medical Journal 2013 banned all articles related to tobacco exposure research financed by tobacco companies. The decision was based on the fact that the interests of third parties involved in the research discredited the investigation and cast doubt on its results. If the author is obviously biased, defends the political (or other) organization and criticizes its opponents, don’t trust that source. The conclusions of the scientific text must first of all reflect the objectivity of the author. The bias of the author may be given by the rhetoric, categorization: if in the conclusions of the article something is divided into good and bad, fair and false, do not quote such text in your final work.