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This guide is a tutorial covering the basics of the academic research process.

Evaluating Articles, Step 1: Is It Worth Considering?


The initial evaluation is conducted when you first locate an article citation and need to determine whether the article has worth based on just the citation, or the citation and abstract. When you click the article title and open up the record, you are provided with more detail. You can then examine the citation to help determine whether the article is even worth considering. Criteria to consider include:

  • Author credentials: Are the authors' affiliation and credentials available? If so, do they specify that they are from a particular educational institution or organization? Not all databases include this information, and it may require a web search or contacting the library for assistance to locate this information.
  • Publication date: Is the publication date current, so that you know the information is up to date or relevant to the time period being discussed?
  • Article length: What is the length of the article? If it is just 2–3 pages, it is unlikely to provide in-depth coverage of the subject matter.
  • Abstract: Is there an abstract that provides a synopsis of the article, which provides information as to whether the article is indeed relevant to your research topic?
  • Peer review: Is the article peer reviewed, so that you know it has gone through a rigorous evaluation that ensures it meets the standards of that discipline and provides credible information?



Evaluating Articles, Step 2: Is It Worth Including as a Source in My Research?


Once you obtain the actual text of the article, you will need to determine whether the article is worth including as a source for your research. Criteria to consider as part of the evaluation process include:

  • Authority: By this point, you should have already evaluated the authors, but you should also ask who is the intended audience? Is the article neither too specialized, nor too general?
  • Objectivity: Is the article's subject treated objectively? Do you detect any bias? Is the article based on fact or on opinion?
  • Coverage: What is the scope of the coverage? Is it a summary of published works or an in-depth reporting of original research? Does it provide any new information?
  • Relevance: Is the article relevant to your research? Is it based on primary or secondary sources? Is this article clear about what is being said? Is it easy to follow, and does it provide conclusions?
  • Accuracy: Are other sources referenced to support what is being said? Have the authors put their research in context with that of others in the field? Are there charts, graphs, or other supporting documentation?

For more information see: Anatomy of a Scholarly Article