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Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide: Evaluating Sources & Literature Reviews

Evaluating Literature Reviews and Sources

A good literature review evaluates a wide variety of sources (academic articles, scholarly books, government/NGO reports). It also evaluates literature reviews that study similar topics. This page offers you a list of resources and tips on how to evaluate the sources that you may use to write your review.
Criteria to evaluate sources:
  • Authority: Who is the author? What are the author's credentials and areas of expertise? Is he or she affiliated with a university?
  • Usefulness: How this source related to your topic? How current or relevant it is to your topic?
  • Reliability: Does the information comes from a reliable, trusted source such as an academic journal?

Reading Critically

To be able to write a good Literature Review, you need to be able to read critically. Below are some tips that will help you evaluate the sources for your paper.


Reading critically (summary from How to Read Academic Texts Critically)
  • Who is the author? What is his/her standing in the field?
  • What is the author’s purpose? To offer advice, make practical suggestions, solve a specific problem, critique or clarify?
  • Note the experts in the field: are there specific names/labs that are frequently cited?
  • Pay attention to methodology: is it sound? what testing procedures, subjects, materials were used?
  • Note conflicting theories, methodologies, and results. Are there any assumptions being made by most/some researchers?
  • Theories: have they evolved over time?
  • Evaluate and synthesize the findings and conclusions. How does this study contribute to your project?
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