The ability to critically evaluate the information in a periodical article is an important skill. Simply finding an article on a given topic is not enough. You must read the article critically. This is a list of possible questions to assist you when using articles in your research.
Who is the author?
- Can you determine the author's background, experience, credentials, or expertise?
- Is the author qualified to write this article?
What type of source is it?
- Is the publication popular or scholarly? A newspaper? Electronic?
- Is the article part of a conference proceedings?
- Who publishes the periodical - a professional organization? The government? A scholarly organization? A corporation?
Is the date of publication relevant to your needs?
- Is the article discussing current research or issues?
- Is the article written at an earlier date important to your research?
Who is the audience?
- Is the article written for the general public, specialists, professionals, students, researchers?
- Does the author's writing style serve the intended audience?
What is the article's purpose or thesis?
- Does the article report the results of a study?
- Are several points of view presented?
- Are there any biases or assumptions upon which the article is based? Are they clearly stated?
- Is the author arguing a particular opinion or viewpoint?
How was the data or information obtained?
- Is the article based on interviews, surveys or questionnaires?
- Is the article based on library research?
- Is the article based on observation or laboratory experiments?
- Is the research methodology explained?
- Is there a geographic, national or cultural orientation?
What are the major findings or conclusions?
- Is the author persuasive?
- Do the data support the findings?
- Do these findings respond to the original research proposal?
- How do the findings relate to your own research?
- Do the findings affect your original ideas about the topic?
How is the information or data presented?
- Are there tables, charts, illustrations, formulas?
- Are they clearly presented?
- Do these tables, etc. contribute to understanding the article?
- Are notations and formulas explained?
Are references given?
- Are the bibliographical references, footnotes and quotations adequate?
- Is the author citing other studies, conference proceedings, or other sources?
- Do the references provide leads to other related research?
How does the study compare with other studies?
- Did you attempt to locate articles presenting differing opinions and viewpoints on this issue?
- Do the conclusions support or contradict the existing body of knowledge?
- What do other experts say?
Did the article come from an electronic source?
- Use the same criteria for evaluating both traditional and electronic sources.
- Which electronic source (Library database, website, etc) did you use?
- Can you locate the same article again?
- Can you identify the path you used? Does the article have an electronic address?
- Use a DOI (what is that?) if possible to provide a stable link to an online resource.
- Do you have the complete text of the article or an abstract? Are tables and graphics missing?