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Evaluating information

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Site: QMplus - The Online Learning Environment of Queen Mary University of London
Course: RDF: Information Literacy Skills for Researchers
Book: Evaluating information
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Date: Friday, 3 July 2020, 12:04 AM

1. Ensuring the quality of research output

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Evaluating information to assess the quality of scholarly papers as well as other resources is fundamental, not only from a researcher's perspective, but for all stakeholders in academia (i.e. publishers, educators, students).

Analysis and evaluation are, of course, intellectual skills; however, they also form the basis of a scholar's professional conduct as they ensure quality control on research output.

The next chapters will look at various aspects of evaluating information: how to approach information with an open mind, how research can be shaped using different investigation methods, critical appraisal in the medical disciplines and the peer-review process.

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1.1. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is a key cognitive ability for researchers across all disciplines. It has been defined as 'meta-cognition'  or 'thinking about thinking',  as it is not simply a logical process: it also involves a great deal of reflection and awareness of all the factors that can influence our thinking. 

This presentation briefly shows how critical thinking can be applied in historical studies; however, a similar approach can be adopted to understand and interpret social behaviour in all its complexity.

Find out more about critical thinking in the additional readings at the end of this book.




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1.2. Study design or methodology

Study design or methodology is a crucial element in research in all subject areas. Depending on their research area, academics may opt for different approaches and use different methods and tools to collect and analyse data.

Becoming familiar with different research methods and their application will help you to evaluate the existing literature and choose the appropriate methodology for your research project.

The reading list in the final chapter includes some key texts on research methods that can be applied in different fields of research.

This presentation looks at some general concepts in study design, as well as introducing some software applications that can help with the collection and interpretation of data.


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2. Critical appraisal: Medicine and related disciplines


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Critical appraisal is the process of assessing the validity of a clinical study. When appraising the content of an article, we look at the methodology and the design of the study, as well as the way results have been presented, discussed and interpreted.

Over the years researchers have come together to define standards for this process of evaluation. As a result of this collaboration there are now effective tools and checklists that can help us in carrying out critical appraisals on a variety of study types.

Critical appraisal is a vital step in the evidence-based healthcare process and ensures that any research output you are referring to (both primary and secondary) is valid and useful to your own research.

You can find more about critical appraisal  in the additional readings at the end of this section.

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2.1. Interpreting data in clinical studies


The presentation below suggests ways to interpret the data presented in a study, helping you to assess its validity.



Get in touch with the T&LS Team if you need help with anything discussed on this page:  Contact the T&LS Team  

3. The peer-review process

Before reaching publication, academic papers are usually submitted to the evaluation and critique of experts (i.e. other academics) through a rigorous process called peer review.

The purpose of the peer-review process from the point of view of an editor or publisher is to assess the quality of a paper and decide whether it is suitable for publication.

The following short presentation sums up the key aspects of this process:


The Teaching & Learning Support Team are always available to assist:  Contact the T&LS Team