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Research Toolkit: Quickly evaluate an article

Tools, techniques, and resources to help you find the information you need.

 Related Guides: Quickly Evaluate a Book, Quickly Evaluate a Website

 

Before you decide to use an article, take a few minutes to evaluate it for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.

Criteria Questions to Ask Analysis

 


Currency

 

  • When was the journal article published?

  • Is the information current and up-to-date? Does it need to be?

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  • Remember that peer reviewed articles can take one to two years to publish.

  • In the areas of health, technology, and science, currency is important.

 

 
 
 
 
Relevance

 

  • Does the scholarly article offer in depth information on the topic?

  • Is the title of the article too specific or general?

  • Are there subtitles or headers with more information?

  • Who is the audience for this article (e.g., general public, researchers, students, working professionals)?

  • Read at the title and the subtitle of the article, since the real purpose of a research article is usually revealed in the title/subtitle.

  • Read at the abstract and conclusion of the article. These sections will explain the subject content of the article.

  • Read the introduction of the article. This section will indicate why the article was written and what the author hopes to accomplish. This is a section that will also demonstrate any biases of the author.

 

 

 
 
 
Authority

 

  • Is the author an expert in the field? Does the author have a PhD., J.D., M.D., EdD…?

  • Are the author’s credentials provided? Where does the author work?

  • With which institution, organization or company is the author affiliated?

  • Has the author written other publications?

  • Are the articles peer reviewed?

  • Does the author stand to benefit from the research or argument presented in the article?

  • Find information about the author’s work or educational background. This information is usually at the beginning of the article or at the end of the article.

  • Search the online catalog, Amazon.com or Worlcat.org by the author to determine if he/she has written other books.

  • Search library research databases by author to determine if the author has published any journal articles.

 

Accuracy

 

  • What sources did the author use?

  • Does the article provide a reference and/or bibliography section?

  • Does the article have a table or graphs/charts?

  • Is the journal peer reviewed?

  • Journal articles are required to include a reference section at the end of the article. This is how you check the article for accuracy.

  • The reference section will also provide you with the types of sources the author selected to write the article.

  • Peer reviewed journals undergo an evaluation by an author's peers when submitted for publication. A number of recognized researchers in the field will critique an article  and recommend its publication, revision, or rejection.

  • Articles accepted for publication through a peer review process implicitly meet the discipline's expected standards of expertise.

 
 
 
 
 
Purpose
  • Why was this written? (Entertain, Persuade or Inform?)

  • Does the author/publisher make money off of this publication?

  • Does the article provide you with an abstract defining its purpose?
  • Read article abstract. These pages will give you a clue as to why the article was written.

  • Look at the preface, foreword, and introduction of the book. These pages will give you any biases expressed by the author.

  • Read the conclusion for the author’s summary and analysis of the findings