ARTICLES can originate from various periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.).
When evaluating ARTICLES for your research paper, use the following criteria and ask yourself:
OBJECTIVITY/PURPOSE: Does the author have an agenda? Why was the article written?
Was the article written to inform, give evidence, teach, give an overview, or persuade?
The purpose of the author in presenting ideas, opinions, or research may in part determine the usefulness of the resource. Does the resource show political, cultural or other bias? Are opposing points of view represented? Is this information verified in other resources? You may not be able to evaluate the objectivity of any single resource until you have looked at all your resources. Even biased resources can sometimes be used, if you are aware of the bias.
Where to find bias in articles
Articles may have information at the beginning or end of the article. The credentials of the author may give you clues to bias.
CURRENCY/TIMELINESS:When was the material written?
Some topics require current information, such as those in the health sciences and computers. Know the time needs of your topic. Is the article up-to-date, out-of-date, or timeless?
Where to find publication date for articles
Date of publication should be clearly listed in the article and in the citation. Also, this information could possibly be found in the Library Catalog or in Library Databases
AUTHORITY/AUTHOR: Is the author an expert in this field?Where is the author employed? What are his/her credentials?
Where to find credentials for articles
Articles may or may not present credentials. Popular magazines usually just list the author's name, but sometimes that may not listed. Articles in professional or scholarly journals may list credentials at the beginning or end of an article, and usually include the name of the author with details that pertain to their expertise on the topic (such as education, occupation, or college/university where the author teaches).
ACCURACY/DOCUMENTATION: Where did the author get his/her information?
The amount and type of documentation used affects the value of the article, and may help you verify the facts or conclusions presented. Documentation usually consists of a bibliography/references, footnotes, credits, resources, or quotations. Resources that include documentation are considered more reliable and more suitable for college level research. Your instructors know that having documentation makes it easier to evaluate a work - that's why it is usually required for your research papers!
Where to find documentation
Documentation is usually at the end of an article:
AUDIENCE:For what type of reader is the author writing?
This ties in with the type of periodical (your article is taken from). Most popular magazines are geared to the general reader, while journals/trade publications are for specialists and researchers, scholars or experts in their fields.
Is this article for:
students (high school, college, graduate)
specialists or professionals,
researchers or scholars?
USEFULNESS: Does the article contain the information you need? Ask yourself "Is this article useful to me, to my paper?".
A well-researched, well-written article is not going to be helpful if it does not pertain to your topic. If if is useful, does it:
support an argument
refute an argument
give examples (survey results, case studies, etc.)
Usefulness can also depend on the type of periodical the article is taken from: a journal, magazine, or newspaper. For example, if your instructor specifically requires a scholarly article, a journal article would most likely be your choice.
The chart below lists criteria that can be used to tell whether you have an article from a scholarly journal or from a popular magazine. Most of the criteria listed for scholarly journal articles can also be applied to books and Internet resources to help determine their value. The more criteria your resource has listed under the Scholarly Journals column, the more likely it will be a good resource.
Lengthy, detailed articles
References and resources listed
References and resources seldom given
Graphs, charts, usually no photographs
Articles written by an expert, always signed (author's name listed)
Articles usually written by staff or freelance writer, frequently unsigned (author's name not listed)