Because sources can be more or less credible and relevant, it is always important to review and evaluate the source you want to use. All material has a sender and a purpose. Consider the following:
- Copyright: Who is the author? Publisher? Do they have authority in the field?
- Purpose: What is the purpose of the source? To inform, influence, provoke, or something else?
- Target: To whom is the material directed?
- Timeliness: When was it published? Has the source been updated, and if so, when?
- Credibility: Is the material objective or biased? How does the material present and cover the subject? Are the facts correct? Does it use references? Who references or links to the material? Does the contents have a good structure, and is the language suitable for the purpose?
- Authenticity: Is the author the person he/she presents him/herself to be? Is the material authentic? Unreliable?
When researchers report their research results, it is called scientific publication. A scientific text should contain primary research, ie new research. Therefore, such publications are called primary sources. According to "the Higher Education Act" (1992: 1434) , your studies should "rest on a scientific basis". This means, among other things, that you should be able to find and use scientific texts and research results, that is, reliable, audited and research-based information.
Scientific publication is made mainly in the form of articles in scientific journals. In order to check the quality, the article undergoes a process called peer review . This means that other researcher reviews the article before it is published. If a publication has gone through a peer review process, it is scientifically reviewed. Note that you always have to judge the source yourself, even if it is peer review.
Different types of sources
Research can also be published in other ways than in scientific articles. Some publication types undergo a peer review process, and others do not.
- Conference reports: When researchers go to a conference to exchange ideas and experiences with one another, their contributions to the conference are usually published, either in scientific journals or in conference reports, so-called proceedings. Sometimes these are scientifically reviewed (peer reviewed).
- Research reports : Researchers also publish material in reports from various institutions / research institutes, organisations or other authorities. The main purpose is to talk about ongoing or completed research. These reports are usually not scientifically reviewed. They are often published freely on the web.
- Licentiate or doctoral dissertations: After the doctoral program, the researcher presents his / her work in the form of a dissertation. A dissertation is a scientifically reviewed source published for the first time. Most are freely published on the web.
- Book or book chapter: In some subject areas, research is still mostly published in book form. Sometimes these books undergo a peer review process similar to that of scientific articles. In other cases, the book is reviewed by the book's editors.
Can a student thesis be considered scientific? A B, C or D essay may look like a scientific publication and follow the IMRaD model (with introduction, method, results and discussion). But even though the layout is scientific, it does not count as a scientific publication, because a scientific text should include primary research, that is, new research. This is not required of an essay at the undergraduate level.