Guide for Evaluating Articles and Resources

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?

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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 (WorldWideWeb, Infotrac, ERIC, 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?
  • Do you have the complete text of the article or an abstract? Are tables and graphics missing?


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