This guide is designed to show you how you can recognize high quality information in print and on the Internet by developing critical evaluation skills.
Finding credible print and online resources for your research papers can be challenging. You want your information to be accurate, and from reputable sites and authors. This Guide will help you to start looking at websites and paper sources with a more skillful eye.
For both paper and online resources, there are certain criteria to look at:
|These general guidelines are designed to help you distinguish between the three main types of periodicals: popular magazines, trade magazines, and scholarly journals. Not all periodicals can be easily classified. If you aren't sure whether a publication is appropriate for your assignment, ask for help at the Information Desk or from your instructor.
|What if you are using an online, full-text article? It's a little trickier determining what a scholarly article is when you don't have the whole journal or magazine in your hand. Here are some clues that may help you:
|1) Look for a list of references (a bibliography) at the end of the article.
2) If the article is less that half a page in length, it is not a research article.
3) Look for credentials after the author(s) name.
4) If the title of the publication has the word "journal" in it, chances are it is scholarly.
5) In some article databases (indexes) you can limit your search to "peer reviewed" journals (scholarly journals).
6) Use the chart above to help you evaluate the article.
Finally, if you are still unsure, ask for help at the Information Desk or from your instructor!
|When an assignment specifies that you find research articles, you will need to use academic journals. Many of the Library's Article Databases allow you to narrow your search to peer-reviewed (academic) journals, but your search doesn't end there; not all articles retrieved from academic journals are going to be research articles. Knowing the potential components of an academic journal will help you to determine which articles are research articles, and which are not, despite appearing in an academic journal.
|Note:even within a peer-reviewed publication, not all of these components are necessarily subject to the peer-review process. You will need to read a specific publication's editorial policies to determine whether their letters to the editor, book reviews, and news briefs are peer-reviewed prior to publication, or whether they just review feature-length research articles.