Is the information you find on the internet less reliable than the information in academic journals to which the University Library subscribes?
Answer:Information found on the internet is not necessarily less reliable than the information in academic journals held by the University Library. However, because anyone can publish anything on the internet, and most of this information is not subject to the quality checks carried out by academic journals, it is essential to assess the information thoroughly to make sure it is reliable.
Why is peer review a good indication of how reliable the information is?
Peer review is a very good indication of reliability because it means that the information has been assessed by more than one expert. You may assume that peer-reviewed articles are reliable and that their content is of the required standard.
Suppose you have to write a paper about the Dutch peacekeeping mission that took place in Uruzgan (Afghanistan) in the period 2006-2010. Your research question is: which factors played a role in the decision making in the Netherland in 2005/2006 when the initial decision was made, in 2008 when the mission was prolonged, and in 2010 when the mission was ended. You are searching for scholarly literature that you can use as a source for your paper.
Suppose you find the following publications:
Use the criteria that you find in the chapter Evaluating to rank these papers in order of decreasing usefulness. Explain your choice.
2. Dimitriu and De Graaf
3. article in SP International
4. Van der Lijn
Relevance is a decisive criterion when you evaluate whether a source will be useful to your project. When the information in the source does not relate to your topic and does not answer your research question, it is not useful. Non-relevant publications come at the bottom of the list. The title of the article by Van der Lijn rises doubts about the subject of the publication and when you read the abstract you are sure. The publication addresses the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, but is not the decision-making. The titles of the second and third publication indicate that their subject is political decision-making in the Netherlands. When you read the abstract of the publication of Grandia this sounds very promising. The title of the publication of Dimitriu and De Graaf does not mention decision-making, but when you read the abstract it turns out that decision making is one of the key subjects in the publication.
You will look closer to the three relevant publications. Are they reliable scholarly articles, written by experts in their fields? The article in SP International is not a scholarly publication. It is not published in a scholarly journal, but in an online magazine of a Dutch political party: the SP. The article reports about the contribution of SP member of parliament Harry Van Bommel to the debate on December 17, 2007 about the prolongation of the mission. The article is anonymous. Perhaps you could use it as source material for the opinion of the SP, but It is not the result of scholarly research.
The publication of Grandia is freely available in the repository of Leiden University. It is a doctoral thesis. Doctoral theses are based upon extensive research and the quality of a thesis is rigourously assessed. The abstract shows that the book will offer much information about your topic. Moreover, it is published in 2015 is the most current of the publications that you found.
SmartCat shows that the publication of Dimitriu and De Graaf is published in a peer-reviewed journal. The information about the authors states that Dimitriu is affiliated with the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism of the Campus The Hague /Leiden University the Netherlands; and De Graaff is working at the Royal Netherlands Army, the Netherlands - Nederlandse Defensie Academie. This is not correct, though. It is the other way around. At the time the article was published De Graaf worked at the CTC en Dimitriu at the Nederlandse Defensie Academie. They are specialists in the field.
The thesis of Grandia should be at the top of your list. It is relevant to your topic; the quality of a dissertation is quaranteed; books contain much detailed information about their topic and is published in 2015 and is not outdated. The publication of Dimitriu and De Graaf is a scholarly article in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. It is older than the publication of Grandia and an article contains less information than a book. You should rank it as nr 2. The article in SP International is not a scholarly article. You place it nr. 3. The article of Van der Lijn is not relevant and has no use at all.
You can check in Google Scholar how often the relevant articles are cited by other scholars. On Novermber 10, 2016 the score was:
Grandia 4x (in total)
Dimitriu en De Graaf 24x
The publication of Grandia is more recent and recent publications normally score less than older publications.