Ensure the quality of your content

The quality of your content relates to both the thoroughness of your research and how you have demonstrated the credibility of your work. For many types of content, especially scientific and technical content, it is important that your text is well researched, based on trustworthy sources, and backed up by evidence, where relevant, or strongly supported with a convincing explanation. Your text should be written clearly with evidence or examples supporting your points; your evidence should be accurately referenced.

This section covers:

Develop high-quality content

Ensure that your publication is founded on robust research, sound evidence, reliable information and careful thought. Readers will see through irrelevant additions and slipshod conclusions, and these can damage the credibility of your content.

Evidence can be quantitative (based on numerical data) or qualitative (based on observations and descriptions). See Writing about evidence for more details of the different types of evidence, and how to write about evidence clearly and accurately.

To be convincing, your evidence should be:

  • from reliable sources (such as an established publisher, a reputable institution, a known expert or a peer-reviewed journal)
  • systematic in some way (rather than anecdotal), even when the evidence presented is of a qualitative nature
  • based on recent and up-to-date sources
  • in line with the sources and types of evidence used by others in the field.

Choose your sources carefully. Research is only as good as the sources. Make sure you use sources that can be depended on for accuracy and completeness.

Think about the importance of one topic compared with another and weight the level of attention they receive accordingly. If topics are equally important or points of view merit equal consideration, it would be logical to give them approximately the same amount of space in your document.

You may need to explain why more detail is provided for one topic than another. This could be because:

  • some topics are more important than others (eg a publication examining the history of immigrants in Australia would likely devote more space to arrivals from China than to arrivals from Canada because of the greater number and influence of Chinese immigrants)
  • some points of view may have more validity than others (eg although a scientific text might discuss the arguments put forward by proponents and opponents of vaccination, this does not mean both points of view should receive equal weight and therefore space)
  • more information is available for some parts of the topic than others (eg a biography of the various wives of Henry VIII may emphasise some more than others, because of differences in their longevity and the documentation available).
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Communicate the quality of your content

While it is critical to have actually done the research, you must also clearly communicate this fact to your reader. Your content should signal the reliability of your information so that readers see that your conclusions are trustworthy and well founded.

You should bring the reader with you on your journey: show them how your data came together, how your conclusions follow from the data, what the limitations of your study are, and where to look for more information and context.

Make sure your text is complete and comprehensive. Think about what readers will want to know and what questions will follow from points you are making, then answer those questions. If you avoid tackling obvious topics or questions, the text will lose credibility (or worse, your reader might think you are trying to hide something and become cynical of your motives).  

Show your research. Support from many respected sources lends credibility to your text. These sources can include data (presented in tables or other graphics), specialist research and opinions, academic papers, case studies, relevant examples, and many other sources. Show your readers the basis for your conclusions by making the inputs visible.

Qualitative assessments, such as critiques and opinions on literature or other humanities subjects, will be significantly more persuasive if backed up with strong supporting information and examples.

Present your sources clearly. Explicitly discuss the foundation of your information, opinions and conclusions – studies, academic papers, surveys, specialist opinions and so on. Use a consistent referencing style and include comprehensive information so readers can check your sources if they want to.

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