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How to evaluate articles

Authority/authorship

  • Who is the author and what is their expertise in the subject area? Have they written on the same subject before?
  • Are they affiliated with a research institution?
  • Who is the publisher and what are their credentials?

Currency/timeliness

  • When was the article published?
  • Do you only need the most recent articles? If so, you may choose to limit your search by date.

Coverage/relevance

  • The contents of scholarly articles are summarized in the abstract. Read the abstract to make sure that the article is related to your research topic.

Purpose/audience

  • Is the article written to prove something (empirical research), persuade the reader, or describe a phenomenon? An abstract typically states the purpose of the article.
  • Is the paper scholarly (peer-reviewed)?

Accuracy/documentation

  • Does the article provide a detailed list of references? Scholarly and peer-reviewed research articles always include a bibliography or reference list of works consulted by the author and have clear in-text citations or footnotes about the sources used in the article.
  • Sources must be clearly indicated. There should be no question about who is responsible for the information, and where the information is coming from.
  • Avoid articles that contain spelling or grammatical errors.

Objectivity/thoroughness

  • Be aware of any bias on the part of the author or publisher, especially from non-scholarly sources such as newspaper editorials and opinion pieces.
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page last updated on: Wednesday 22 November 2017
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