As a student, having to write reports, delivering projects and so forth, how do I know that what I have been reading in aid of delivery is relevant, and that you have read enough?
Here is a checklist (courtesy of Bell, Jankowics & MacNeill in their 2000 text “Research Methods for Business students”) that can be used to evaluate any text for relevance:
- How recent is the item?
- Is the item likely to have been superseded?
- Is the context sufficiently different to make it marginal to your research question(s) and objectives?
- Have you seen references to this item (or its author) in other items that were useful?
- Does the item support or contradict your arguments? For either it will probably be worth reading!
- Does the item appear to be biased? Even if it is it might still be relevant to a critical review
- What are the methodological omissions within the work? Might it still be of relevance?
- Is the precision sufficient? Even if imprecise, could it still be relevant?
Evaluating for efficiency:
One test is when searching reveals mainly references to items that you have already read. Quality and quantity is sometimes also a matter of what a tutor or lecturer or for that matter – any audience you have as your target – would like to see.
Have you grasped, and have you gained a thorough understanding of the topic through the sources you visited? Sometimes consulting with a lecturer or fellow students or someone you know who is an expert within their field (perhaps someone your senior in an organisation) may help your research effort.