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Evaluating Sources of Information: Journal Articles

Evaluating Periodical Sources

 Who are the authors or contributors, and what are their credentials?

  • What type of journal is the article in? Is it a peer-reviewed journal?
  • What is the publication date of the article?
  • Are references or a bibliography included? Are they current sources?
  • Does the article have information you can use in your paper? 

Explore the other tabs in this box for more detailed CRAAP criteria for articles.

 Date of Publication: 

Some topics, such as those in the health sciences, require current information. Other subjects, such as history, value older material as well as current. Articles will usually list a month and year of publication.

Articles are usually published more quickly than books, so the content could be very recent.

Know the time needs of your topic and examine the timeliness of the article; is it: up-to-date, out-of-date, or timeless? 

 Usefulness: Is the information on the site useful to your current assignment?  Does it:

  • support or refute an argument
  • give examples (survey results, primary research, case studies)
  • provide "wrong" information that can be challenged in a productive way?

Coverage: Does the page cover the topic comprehensively, partially or is it an overview? Is there a chapter that focuses on your topic area?

Audience: Who is the intended audience of the webpage? Is the level appropriate for your needs?  

  • general readers,
  • students (elementary, high school, college, graduate),
  • specialists or professionals
  • researchers or scholars


Author: Is the author an expert in this field? Where is the author employed? What else has he/she written? Has he/she won awards or honors? If the author/researcher is employed at a university, you can usually look up a list of their publications on that university's website.

Type of Periodical: For college-level assignments, information should be obtained mostly from scholarly journals, although other types may be useful, depending on your topic.

  • Scholarly journals contain articles describing high quality research that has been reviewed by experts in the field prior to publication
  • Trade magazines may be useful for business information in a specific industry or to identify current trends in a profession
  • Popular magazines, such as Time and Newsweek, should be used sparingly, and with the knowledge that they may be biased, or simplify issues



Organization and Content: Is the article well organized and focused?  Is the argument or presentation understandable? Is it original research, a review of previous research, or a broad informative piece?

Illustrations: Are charts, graphs, maps, photographs, etc. used to illustrate concepts? Are they relevant & reliable? Are they clear and professional-looking?

References / Bibliography: Scholarly works always contain a bibliography of the resources that were consulted. The references in this list should be in sufficient quantity and be appropriate for the content. Look for:

  • if a bibliography exists
  • if the bibliography is short or long
  • if the bibliography is selective or comprehensive
  • if the references are primary sources (ex. journal articles) or only secondary sources (ex. encyclopedias)
  • If the source material is critically evaluated and accurately represented?
  • if the references are contemporary to the book or much older 
  • if the citation style is clear and consistent


What is the primary reason that was the article was written?   

  • To inform: results of a study/experiment, what happened at an event
  • To persuade: to change point of view, vote a certain way, purchase an item, attend an event
  • To prove something: a behaviour is bad/good, a method works/does not work
  • To entertain: humor, gossip
  • To teach how to do something: invest wisely, implement a program

Peer Reviewed Articles

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Life of a Scientific Article


Click to see the full story!


Created by K.M.Everson 2020. Flickr. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Open Access

"Scholarly research that is published in open access is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (although it does require that proper attribution of works be given to authors)"
  CARL: Canadian Association of Research Librarires

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