• General introduction

    This section is about evaluating and refining your literature search and about assessing the quality of search results. Furthermore, we give you some tips for the procurement of books and full text articles, for referencing and the use of reference management software and for useful literature on academic writing.

  • 3.2 Quality assessment

    Always up-to-date: The guidelines of the international library association IFLA for recognizing "fake news".

    The following criteria may be helpful by assessing the quality of the results of your literature search.
    However, in case of doubt we recommend you to discuss the use of a publication for your thesis with your teacher.
    Documents listed in a database are in general of good quality and a critical quality assessment is especially important for documents / information found in the internet.

    Purpose of publication

    What is the purpose of a publication? Who is the target group of the publication?

    Present new research result, scientific conferences vs. advertising, lobbying
    Experts, research community vs. customers, the general public

    Author / publisher / editor

    Do you know the authors name or is the document published anonymously?
    Who are the authors? What is their profession? What is their acacemic degree?
    What reputation does the publisher / editor have?

    Research insitutes, university, authorities, museums vs. companies

    Date of publication / update

    When was the document published?
    When was the web site updated?


    What kind of literature is referenced in the publication?
    Is there a bibliography?
    What web sites are referred to?

    Peer review

    Is the article published in a peer reviewed journal?

    Peer review is the evaluation of a publication by one or more people of similar competence to the author and constitutes a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility.
    To check if a journal is peer reviewed go to: Ulrichsweb: International Periodicals Directory.

    Journal reputation

    What reputation has the journal within the scientific community?

    There are different indicators for a journal's reputation. One of them is the impact factor (IF) that is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in a journal. Check the IF of a journal via the InCites Journal Citation Report.


    The URL can give you an idea of the background of a web site.

    uni-, .edu, .org, .gov, .admin vs. .com

    Besides the formal quality assessment you also have to find out if a publication is relevant to your research question in terms of content. To gain a first impression of a publications content have a look at the abstract, the preface, the introduction and the table of content.

    3.1 Evaluating and refining your literature search3.3 Access options