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Self-study material for information searches: Evaluation of information and copyright

Evaluating sources

You should always evaluate information before you use it as a source in your work. You can use the following questions to help you with the evaluation:



  • Is the text directed at the general public, experts in the field of the scientific community? 
  • Is the presented information a fact or an opinion? Written sources have to show what sources they used as background information, so that they can be verified, if needed. Study the list of references.
  • Consider also if something has been left out intentionally or unintentionally (e.g. for religious or political reasons).
  • Aim to get hold of the original source, if possible. The original source refers to the publication in which the information was first reported. Avoid second-hand sources! 
  • A research article usually follows the following IMRD structure: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion. Pay attention especially to the research methods section. This will help you to differentiate a scientific article from a popularized or an expert article.




  • You should always be able to verify the author. Check the authors' background: are they researchers, experts, professionals or amateurs?
  • What sort of reputation does the author have within the scientific community? Have their publications been cited? Have they been mentioned in field-specific textbooks? 
  • Does the author have any commercial of political affiliations?



  • Who has published the text? What type of materials do they publish?
  • If the publication is a book: Who published the book? Is it a self-published book? Has someone reviewed or edited the contents?
  • If it's an article published in a journal: In which journal has the article been published? Is the journal peer-reviewed? What level of classification has the Publication Forum given to the publication channel?
  • Scientific appearance is not a guarantee for scientificity. Watch out for predatory publishers. Their goal is to collect author publishing fees with the expense of scientificity. These journals do not provide reliable source materials, since they neglect editing and peer-review processes. Read more about predatory publishers on the Responsible Research website. If you suspect a journal to be unreliable, you can ask the library to help you evaluate it. 



  • Consider field specificity. It is rare to find outdated information in the field of music, contrary to nursing science or information technology.
  • Aim at finding recent sources. However, the point of view of your work has great significance. If you are conducting a research on the history of the flute, an older work of reference can be just as usable as a brand new one.




Peer-review is a method of scientific quality assurance. The editors of a scientific journal evaluate if the article offered for publication is relevant and fit for publication. After this, outside referees, which consist of field-specific experts, evaluate the factual content and scientific significance as well as the originality and novelty value of the text in peer-reviewed publications. 

The assessors of the publication are independent of the manuscript under consideration. Independent assessors are distinguished researchers or other experts who are not the editors of the journal or book. The evaluation can be carried out either anonymously or openly.  

Publication Forum



Publication Forum (in Finnish often referred to as JUFO) is a rating and classification system to support the quality assessment of research output. Expert Panels from various disciplines evaluate academic journals, book series, conferences as well as book publishers. The  publication channels are rated on a scale from 0 to 3. The publication channel search can be used to check what rating has been given to both foreign and domestic publication channels. 


The authors of a work – whether it is text, music, a picture, a sound recording or a web page – have copyright to the work. This means that others cannot publish it without the owner’s permission. According to the quotation rights, a part of a published work can be quoted.

For more information on how to quote appropriately, see Oamk’s instructions for writing and publishing a thesis.​