Advanced evaluation

The ability to critically evaluate information is an essential postgraduate research skill. This skill is particularly pertinent to the production of literature reviews, where a critical appraisal or analysis of the literature is required.

We recommend you use the PROMPT mnemonic (Presentation, Relevance, Objectivity, Method, Provenance, Timeliness) outlined below to provide a structured approach to critical evaluation of information. You may want to print off a more detailed explanation to help you analyse the information you find.


P Presentation
Poor presentation and inappropriate or confusing use of language can hinder your use of content. Try not to let poor presentation stop you from using what might otherwise be good quality, relevant information.
R Relevance
Relevance is not a property of the information itself, but rather of its relationship to the need you have identified. Consider geography, level and the emphasis of the content.
O Objectivity
All information is presented from a position of interest, although this may not be intentional. You need to be aware of possible bias in what you read, and to take account of this when you interpret the information.
M Method (research reports only)
Do not assume that because a research report has been accepted for publication, it is error free. You need to assess the accuracy of information produced as a result of using particular methods.
P Provenance
The ‘credentials’ of a piece of information support its status and perceived value. It is important to be able to identify the author, sponsoring body or source of your information.
T Timeliness
Timeliness is an aspect of relevance. You need to be aware of the date of production or publication, and assess whether this has been superseded, or is still useful to your needs.